End of year review – published fiction (+ awards eligibility)

It’s the end of December, and that means it’s time for a review of what I’ve had published in 2016!

If you’re reading for award-nominating purposes, all but one of these are eligible for the Hugo and Nebula short story categories, with one that’s only Hugo-eligible this year. Please do let me know if you need a reading copy of anything that’s behind a paywall.

Although I like everything I’ve published this year, I’ll mention my personal favourites first. After that, stories are listed in the order they appeared.

I hope you enjoy reading!

Personal Favourites

  • “How I Became Coruscating Queen of All the Realms, Pierced the Obsidian Night, Destroyed a Legendary Sword, and Saved My Heart’s True Love”
    by Baker & Dovey (Hugo-eligible)

    This story, co-written with my occasional consciousness-sharing friend Matt Dovey follows the misadventures of Essandra, the smart-ass wielder of the legendary/cursed sword Hrrnngnngrrrndr (the Sword of a Hundred Thousand Agonies, several of which probably involve spelling the damn thing) particular affection for typical gender roles and a significant amount of affection for untold riches, as she tries to defeat the Mad Wizard-King and make of with his treasure—all while fending off the unasked-for romantic overtures of fellow adventurers Korgar the Jhunken Barbarian (of the bulging muscles) and Elutriel the priest (of the silken skin and alluring hair). Will she finally find true love (and grab lots of loot?), and what the hell’s the deal with Hrrnngnngrrrndr?

    This story is in Alliteration Ink’s No Shit, There I Was anthology edited by Alex Acks, which is out sometime in the near future. However, since it’s already been released to the 500 or so Kickstarter backers, it’s already Hugo-eligible. If you’re reading for awards, send me an e-mail and I’d be happy to provide you with a copy of the story or an e-ARC of the anthology (sans art). Note that it’s not Nebula-eligible until it actually releases more widely. You can read the first hundred or so words at Baker & Dovey’s website and, again, I’m happy to provide an e-ARC. The story will also be available in audio from PodCastle whenever the anthology releases.

  • “Just Another Night at the Abandoned Draft Bar and Grill”

    I like to refer to this little story-thing as Feminist metafiction. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t write it partly in response to a certain Hugo-related kerfluffle, but I’d like to think it appeals to anyone who’s struggled through a clichéd and hackneyed story—either as writer or reader. The story follows Alexandra, an unfortunate victim of lazy characterization (and fridging) as she and fellow novel characters François (AKA African Henchman #1) and Wong the Inscrutable try to force their author to change his stupid plot and finally finish a first draft so they can be free of his inanity. Does it work? You’ll have to read the story to find out.

    It was published in the May 2016 issue of Galaxy’s Edge, where it can still be read for free online thanks to the glory of the Wayback Machine. (And hey, while you’re there, check out Tina Gower’s awesome “This is Home. You are Well.”

Full Bibliography for 2016

So that’s all, folks! Again, feel free to reach out if you’d like a reading copy of any of these. And I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them, no matter who you are.

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!)

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.

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 published original fiction from 2015 – in review (the dreaded “awards eligibility post”)

For SFF writers, there are two year-end traditions.

One is to post a list of your published fiction for the year so people who read for award nominations can be reminded it exists.

The second is to exhibit sufficient hand-wringing while you do it, so as to appear self-effacing, awkward, and not a giant bag of dicks.

So:

Hand-wringing?

Er, hang on a bit. Let me try that again.

Hand-wringing?!

Eh, good enough.

Anyway. now that that’s out of the way, here is a curated selection of my stories that saw first publication (or were first podcast) this year.

Just to be as clear as crystal, I am not expecting to end up on anyone’s awards list. But I hope you find something you like in the stories below, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Original Short Stories

“Configuring Your Quantum Disambiguator”Nature, February 4, 2015
Having trouble calibrating your universe-defining machine? Don’t lose your head. Just refer to these simple instructions… (meta-fiction; humour)
(Also currently shortlisted in the “Quantum Shorts” contest.)

“Masks”SFComet, March 2015 (Also in Chinese)
Min’s double life as an investigator and a spy aboard a generation ship is about to come crashing down… Unless she can out-think the man in the lizard mask.
(sci-fi)

“Love and Relativity”Nature Physics, September 1, 2015
When Adhi disappears on an experimental spacecraft, Indira tirelessly searches for answers. But life can’t stand still forever, and history has a funny way of repeating itself.
(sci-fi; meta-fiction)

“Fugue in a Minor Key”Galaxy’s Edge, November 2015 (note: available through 12/31)
The most important things in Katja’s life are her daughter, her husband, and her internationally acclaimed career as a concert pianist—but the two university techs before her insist they were all a simulation.
(sci-fi)

“Elements of a Successful Exit Broadcast”Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, November 2015
The last moments of your life can be among the most important. Spend them wisely; spend them well. Do not waste time on empty regret.
(sci-fi)

“Excerpt from the Diagnostic and Necromantic Manual, 5th Edition Regarding the Departed”The Sockdolager, Winter 2015
There are various methods of bringing loved ones back from the dead—but things don’t always go exactly as you plan.
(fantasy; meta-fiction)

Podcast Fiction

“Raising Words”Meduspod, February 2, 2015 (Print story published in Penumbra, July 2013)
When the man known as Yamato Takeru dies and transforms into a massive white spirit-bird, one of his daughters stands apart. She does not celebrate his godly transformation. Instead, she remembers…
(fantasy)

“Behind the First Years”StarShipSofa, September 16, 2015 (Print story published in COSMOS Online, 2013)
When his predecessor dies just before the ship they live on reaches its final destination, Pete is thrust into the role of archivist. Can he adapt? What waits in store on their new home?
(sci-fi)

These are just some of the stories I published this year (12 in all, 9 of which are original publications). You can see the full list on my bibliography page.

Thanks for your (probably hypothetical!) support during 2015, and I’m looking forward to another year’s worth of writing and publishing stories in 2016.

“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)

“Elements of a Successful Exit Broadcast” is odd, short, and free to read at Fantastic Stories of the Imagination

I like flash fiction. I also like space ships (albeit ones without puppies involved).

So it pleases me to combine the two in my latest publication, “Elements of a Successful Exit Broadcast,” which is now live in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination‘s November/December issue.

It’s super short–about 200 words total–and has some pretty spiffy art to go with it. Go give it a read if you have a spare moment or two. And enjoy!

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.

Flash Fiction: “Love and Relativity” at Nature Physics today

Okay… 5 days ago. (insert joke about relativity here)

Interestingly, as Colin Sullivan points out in his intro, both of the flash fiction stories I’ve sold to Nature deal with multiple universes in some way or another.

While my previous story was a humorous take on evil twins and quantum disambiguators, though, this one is a more serious tale about experimental space travel and the potential disasters thereof. But it’s also about the importance of not letting those disasters stop further experimentation. And the even bigger importance of family–however you define it.

On another note, the story is partly inspired by the photo of sari-wearing female employees of ISRO, as I mention in my Future Conditional guest post about the story. Consider this little tale my small way of saying that I think that photo and everything it represents is awesome.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the story!

“Love and Relativity” at Nature Physics

(Oh, and I guess I should mention that it’s supremely nerdy, in that it’s written in the style of an annotated bibliography… Nobody’s perfect, right?)