I’ve entered “The Thing about Heisenball” in the 2017 Quantum Shorts contest–go check it out!

My flash fiction piece “The Thing about Heisenball” has a non-zero number of non-binary characters, and deals with relationship problems, a game a little like squash, and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, with a dash of many worlds theorem thrown in for good measure. You know, it’s just your average all-the-things story.

The story, which was published in Daily Science Fiction in April of 2017, is now up and awaiting eyeballs at the semi-annual Quantum Shorts fiction contest.

Quantum Shorts is a neat contest. It alternates between a short film and fiction contest, and each year pushes creators to explore concepts of quantum physics with their art. In 2015 my Nature story “How to Configure your Quantum Disambiguator” made it onto the short-list, and I found the short films in last year’s contest fascinating to watch.

This year’s contest has just kicked off, so there isn’t a lot of content yet. But in addition to my story, there’s a very clever little story by fellow Writers of the Future alum (and former librarian!) Stephen P Sottong and several other stories by other writers. (Anything marked as being “by Quantum Shorts” is a winner from a previous year of the contest.) Go check it out, and don’t forget to vote for your favourite!

And if you’re a writer yourself, and want to join in the fun, get to it! The competition deadline is December 1st, and your entry needs to explore some concept of quantum physics and include the sentence “There are only two possibilities: yes or no.” All that in 1000 words or fewer. (If you’re stuck on quantum physics, the site includes a handy reference section, with an A-Z guide on quantum physics, quotes from physicists, and more.)

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.

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.)

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!)

“Love and Relativity” now available in Spanish at Axxón!

My story from Nature Physics, “Love and Relativity,” has been translated into Spanish by the fine folks at Axxón magazine.

You can read the translation, “Amor y Relatividad,” by author and translator Claudia De Bella, here: http://axxon.com.ar/rev/2016/10/amor-y-relatividad-stewart-c-baker/

Gracias, Claduai y Axxón!

Two SFnal reprints in QuickFic – “Masks” and “Little More than Shadows”

These two reprints are actually from late June, but I was visiting family at the time and wasn’t paying much attention to things.

So, under the “better late than never” category: I have two reprints in Digital Fiction Publishing’s “QuickFic” imprint which are free to read online on their website.

The first of these, “Little More than Shadows,” is a roughly 800-word 2nd-person slipstreamy story about dreams, monsters, regrets, and Hamlet references in the title. It starts like this:

On the worst days, just the knowledge that you’re dreaming is enough to set you shivering in the cot, neck stiff from the cables.

Eventually, one of your wardens will come, so you wait. They are little more than shadows, these days: features you can’t quite bring into focus; skin tone somewhere between ivory and midnight. You can’t remember any of the names you gave them when you first arrived.

The second story, “Masks,” is closer to 3000 words, and is space opera featuring a colony-ship, spies, sabotage, alien artefacts of unclear provenance, and more. Also a lesbian couple, hooray!

Min can tell by the way the man in the lizard mask drums the fingers of one hand on the surface of his desk that he is angry. She avoids the bright green glimmer of his eyes, wishing she were anywhere but here. Wishing she remembered who she was supposed to be.

“This is all you bring me?” the man asks, his voice raspy with distortion. In his other hand he holds the latest chip Min has stolen, heavy with data on Ship’s communications to the other surviving colony ships and its route away from Earth-long-gone.

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.

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.

This weekend is your last chance to vote in the Quantum Shorts competition.

As the post title suggests, the deadline for voting in the Quantum Shorts competition is coming up.

Voting is open until “the end of January,” which I’m guessing translates to the middle of the day January 31st in most places (the contest organizers are Singapore-based).

My story “How to Configure Your Quantum Disambiguator” is on the short-list, along with a lot of other great stories. Go give them a read and vote for your favourite!