Author Archives: bckinney

Withdrawing from Writers of the Future

Earlier this week, I received a phone call informing me that my final submission to the Writers of the Future contest (first quarter 2018) had been selected as a finalist. However, after contemplating the information1 that past winners have shared about the contest in recent weeks, I have withdrawn my finalist story from consideration.

I would not judge anyone for their past (or future) decisions to be involved in the contest, whether or not they act(ed) out of ignorance. After all, many writers – myself included – have long treated this contest as a normal fixture of our community. I hope my choice will help encourage others to reexamine that assumption.

For myself, no award is worth supporting an organization that has hurt and misused so many friends, fellow authors, illustrators, and human beings.

[Updated August 12 with more links in the footnote.]

SoCIA 2018

This past weekend I attended the 2018 Social & Conceptual Issues in Astrobiology conference, an academic gathering for the discussion of social, ethical, and theoretical ramifications of humankind’s interactions with space.

Only about a hundred people could attend, but I’ve gathered my livetweet notes here so you can read up on all these amazing topics! I covered ~40% of the conference, so you should be able to find more notes across the internet via the #SoCIA18 hashtag.

All notes are in Thread Reader form. To read/comment in the original twitter, just click through. For a quick tour, * indicates my personal favorites.

Escape Pod Rejectomancy Update

As of today, I’ve made a small change to how we at Escape Pod choose our rejection letters.

In short, rejection letter type now reflects where the story got in our editorial pipeline. The criteria for Tiers 1&2 have been updated, so that now:

  • Tier 1: Rejected by Associate Editor (first reader)
  • Tier 2: Rejected by Assistant Editor (me)
  • Tier 3: Rejected during Assistant Editor Second Pass
  • Tier 4: Rejected by Co-Editors

Note that, as a result, we will be sending more Tier 1’s than in the past. We have tweaked its text accordingly.

Now more than ever, tier is not an estimate of story quality. “Who detected that the story wouldn’t be a fit for Escape Pod” is not highly correlated with the (subjective) question of “how close the story came to fitting.”

If you miss having some subjective opinion in your rejection letter, fear not! We continue to provide personalized rejections whenever possible for original story submissions.

If you want to learn more, including how to identify which tier you received, check out my full Submissions and Rejetomany post.

Badass Balance

NeuroThursday returns this week with a tale about all the secret badassery of your balance (vestibular) system!

Threadreader

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/982049016857972738.html

Twitter thread

Hugo Nomination: Semiprozine 2018

I got home last night from a weekend traveling by train, plane, and automobile. All of it in a state of shock over being a 2018 Hugo Award Finalist for Best Semiprozine as part of the amazing Escape Pod editorial team, led by co-editors S.B. Divya and Mur Lafferty (and outgoing editor Norm Sherman).

You can find Escape Pod’s official announcement here, and I’m trying to add a few thoughts of my own, despite being largely in a loss-for-words state. Which means I’m just going to do an EMOTIONAL BRAINDUMP and you all gotta live with it!

First and most importantly, my thanks and love to Mur Lafferty and S.B. Divya, my two excellent co-editors, the pilots and visionaries of the finest pod in the galaxy. It’s a pleasure to serve under the both of you. Mur: you need but say the word, and any gourd shall die. Divya: double-extra thanks for putting your trust in me back when  I was just a baby!author. Plus, my gratitude also to Norm Sherman, helmsman of the pod for many years; and to Alasdair Stewart and Marguerite Kenner, the spine and spark of all we do across the Escape Artists family.

Second and ALSO most importantly, thanks to all the listeners, readers, and fans who make Escape Pod possible. We work hard to bring you the very best science fiction to brighten your jog, commute, kitchen, and more. We’re glad you love it, and in return, you inspire us to keep dialing up our awesomeness for you, year after year. That’s a promise.

Third and STILL most importantly, thanks to the rest of the awesome Escape Pod crew! Only a few names fit on the nomination, but every turn and flight of the pod depends on you. Tina’s hosting, Adam’s production work, Kay and Laura’s fantastic work in Artemis Rising, and the rest of the team – Santiago, Erin, Jen, Sarah, Darcie, Sandy, Peter, Darusha, and everyone else who’s come and gone (and stayed in our hearts) over the years.

Yes, you are all the most important. (Even all you people who are critical to my success, but not specifically to Escape Pod: family, friends, mentors, workshopmates, Codexians, Magnificent Seven+, and more. ) Deal with it. It’s my first big award nomination and I’ll gush all I want.

Filling in the Gaps: Time Itself

This week’s #NeuroThursday concludes our arc (for now) on how the brain creates your perceptual experience by filling in the gaps with lies and guesswork – all the way down to the very core of your experience!

Threadreader:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/971933393603710976.html

Twitter:

 

Toward Lands Uncharted

Now that the Kindle version is out, it’s time to crow about my latest publication: Toward Lands Uncharted, my fantasy story about a spy and diplomat who must try and protect her conquered nation from the capricious power of imperial border-magic.

It’s available in the Mind Candy anthology, the first publication from the small publisher Myriad Paradigm. I warn you, the cover art is… lacking. But new art is coming down the pipeline, so consider this a collector’s edition! And the story lineup is the same no matter what, full of great early-career professional writers like myself.

This story began in a writing exercise for Mary Robinette Kowal’s Short Story Intensive workshop in summer 2016. My core idea was the Censor of Maps: someone who changes maps, and in doing so, rewrites the nations beneath. Not so fictional at all, since it’s inspired by the Sykes-Picot agreement, where an imperial power made a single callous decision that builds and destroys nations. (Hardly the only instance of such a thing.) But need a speculative/magical element in my historical fiction, so I made the political into the literal: a magic that erases nations, places, and peoples.

I very nearly named this story “Sic Hunt Draconis:” here be dragons. The unknown spaces, the fears and possibilities we write into the uncharted spaces of our lives. But it would’ve been a terrible bait-and-switch to use that title in a story with no actual dragons!

Filling in the Gaps: Optical Illusions

This week, NeuroThursday continues into the weirdness of our visual system, with a demonstration of how our brain fills in the gaps to make us think we see so much more than we really do.

I’m testing out a new Twitter thread-archiving service. Here it is unrolled via Threadreader…

And here’s the original on Twitter:

Peripheral and Color Vision

Today, NeuroThursday picked up on an offhand remark from last week, and dove from there into an explanation of human vision – especially color vision and peripheral vision.

Thread Reader version:

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/964327977759707137.html

Original twitter thread: