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.)

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.)

New co-authored story: “Something on Your Mind” in Kaleidotrope (plus, win a prize!)

A lot of writers I know have “bingo cards.” Basically, these are things that they want to accomplish in their career, like a story in Lightspeed or a Hugo nomination or something.

While I am far too disorganized to have a bingo card, one of the squares on it if I did would probably be to have been lumped into an “et al.” in a fiction story. (That means “et alia” or “and others” for those of you not used to reading academic journal articles. It’s a way to deal with situations where there are a bunch of authors and listing them all would be too time-and-space-consuming.)

So! It is with pleasure I am able to announce the crossing off of this invisible bingo square, by way of a story I co-authored with not one, not two, not three, not even four, but eight other authors!

“Something on Your Mind” by Gareth D. Jones, Stewart C. Baker, Anatoly Belilovsky, Robert Dawson, Kate Heartfield, Holly Heisey, CL Holland, Laurie Tom, and Deborah Walker (phew) is now available to read in the latest issue of Kaleidotrope. (Okay, they didn’t give me the et al. treatment in the byline, but it is in the link!)

Writing this was an interesting experience! Gareth, as primary author and creator of the Astropolis setting, had us all write a short scene from an ordinary day in someone’s life on the station. He didn’t give us any more information about the story–not how he’d connect the pieces or what the overarching plot would be.

And this is where the prize comes in. Go read the story, then come back here and leave me a comment with which of the various characters you think I’m responsible for. I’ll even give you a hint: the order of names in the byline has no bearing on the order of our sections in the story.

You have until 3pm PST next Friday, October 13th, to make your guesses. At that time, I’ll put all the correct guessers into random.org and select one lucky winner.

What will you win? A shiny copy of the September issue of Galaxy’s Edge, which includes my Lovecraftian humour story “Cut-Rate Couples Weekend at the Witch House Inne and Tavern (9 Reviews)”, as well as tales by Rachelle Harp, TR Napper, Nick DiChario and others.

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.)

I’m a finalist in the 2017 Baen Memorial SF contest!

I’m happy to announce that (for the third time) I’m a finalist in the Baen Memorial SF contest!

Although I’m not allowed to reveal the title of my story, or any other details about it, until the judging is over later this month, I’m pleased it’s gotten this far.

Writing hard SF always gets me out of my comfort zone, but seems to pay off, since I’ve managed to publish 3 of my previous submissions to the contest, 2 at pro rates.

Since you can’t read this year’s story, here are the three published stories that started their lives as Baen Memorial contest entries:

My 2013 finalist, “The Plumes of Enceladus”, can be read online at Abyss & Apex, where it was published last October.

My 2014 finalist, “The View from Driftwise Spindle,” can be read online (if you have a subscription) at IGMS, where it was published last July.

My 2015 entry (which got me a 5-day form rejection) was published in Nature Physics in September of 2015, and has since reappeared in print and audio from Flash Fiction Online and Audible, respectively.

Enjoy!

ETA: The full list of finalists has now been announced. I’m honoured by the company my story is in.

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.

I have a new story out today in Chappy Fiction’s Time Travel Tales

Time manipulation is a delicate, difficult practice. First you’ve got to will (be/have been) get/got/getting the right verb tense (or just give up and go with simple present). And then there’s the matter of simultaneous n-breaks—a tricky tactic to stretch and twist time back on itself, allowing for multiple iterations of the same person to exist in the same room at the same time for an academic conference. Not to mention hangovers.

What am I even talking about? My latest published story, “First and Only Sixteenth Annual One-Woman Symposium on Time Manipulation,” which is out today in Chappy Fiction’s Time Travel Tales anthology.

Will Dr. Mirai and her various iterations make revolutionary breakthroughs as they tinker with time, or will they break the universe and suffer the consequences? If you want to find out, you’ll have to snag the anthology: Time Travel Tales on Amazon, available in Kindle and paperback forms!

The anthology has a lot of other great stories on offer, as well, from the metafictional to the traditional, the academic to the adventurous.

Just take a gander at the names which grace the table of contents:

Brian Trent, Catherine Wells, Sean Williams, Stewart C Baker, Robert Silverberg, HL Fullerton, Auston Habershaw, Brenda Anderson, SL Huang, Tony Pi, Steve Simpson, K Kazul Wolf, Rasheedah Phillips, Martin L Shoemaker, Alter Reiss, David Steffen, John A Frochio, Alisa Alering, Desmond Warzel, and Rosemary Claire Smith.