The first story I ever sold, “The Wind and the Spark,” is now available again! It’s part of the latest science fiction anthology from Digital Science Fiction. The original magazine has long since closed, so this is now the only place you can find my tale of steampunk technological mysteries, inspired by an obscure corner of historical neuroscience.
Available from Amazon right here!
Today’s the day, my friends: time to unleash Cyborg Shark Battle (Season 4, O’ahu Frenzy) upon the world!
The anthology Cat’s Breakfast is now available for purchase in ebook, and a trade paperback will be available from that same link in a few days.
I’m thrilled to be able to share this story with you all at last. It’s got ridiculous social rituals, backstabby social dynamics, reality TV, and brain-machine interfaces. In other words, a recounting of my time in graduate school, only with more reality TV and less-dangerous animals.
As silly as this story may sound, I actually consider it hard SF. It extrapolates modern trends and technologies into entirely plausible directions of new profit…
P.S. If you sign up for my mailing list soon, the June newsletter will contain a free teaser excerpt!
It looks like one of my stories is up at Audible.com: it’s the Time Cookie Wars, originally published in Flash Fiction Online! If you want to hear an audio version, this is your first & only place to go listen.
Be warned, if you haven’t seen this story before, it’s a wee bit darker than the blurb suggests. I’d definitely classify this as “black comedy.”
My neo-Lovecraftian short story, “Sweeter than Lead,” is now up at Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores!
Subscription required, but it’s only a few dollars a year – and all the stories there (mine included) come with original artwork! Money well spent, with the articles and stories that come out every week.
If you want to read more about the story, check out the notes that accompanied its original publication at PodCastle.
Event Horizon 2017, the anthology of stories from this year’s Campbell Award-eligible authors, is now also available in print until July 15! This is another chance to read works by this year’s up-and-coming new writers of science fiction and fantasy. Moreover, this may be the first opportunity to find my words on actual physical paper, rather than web or ebook!
Volume 1 here, (contains my Scientist Ghost Story), Volume 2 here. I’m told the purchase price is at-cost for the publisher, but if it feels too steep, the ebook remains free until July 15.
The Event Horizon anthology has come out today, and is free for all to download until July 15!
This is the latest in a long line of Campbellian Anthologies, containing the works of over 75 people eligible for this year’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Everyone in here published their first professional piece of science fiction or fantasy in 2015 or 2016. I’m eligible myself, so you’ll find one of my stories in the anthology – though if you follow my blog, you’ve probably read the story already!
The award is selected by members of this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, with the finalists decided this week, and the winners in a few months. But anyone can read and enjoy nearly 400,000 words by this year’s most promising new writers!
My short story Meltwater came out today at Escape Pod, the internet’s oldest and finest source of audio science fiction! Rajan Khanna gave it an absolutely lovely reading, the perfect balance of mellow and melancholy. If you read the story last year, go forth and listen to the new interpretation – and if you didn’t, now’s your chance to discover my first professional short story!
My nonfiction neuroscience essay, “The Evolved Brain,” is up in the January issue of Clarkesworld!
I’d like to use this space for a bit of bonus content: the eleven links and footnotes I’d originally included. We decided to remove them during the editorial process, but if you want to see the sources for my claims, here they are for posterity:
- Dr. Marcus’ quote about what “No overarching theory of neuroscience could predict” comes from this New York Times editorial.
- For more details on the Information Processing (IP) model, this wikipedia page is a good place to start.
- The quotation “All models are wrong, but some models are useful” is generally attributed to George Box, in this book’s original 1978 edition. The variant “models have no truth value” comes from this 2013 article on Bayesian statistics.
- For “our decisions remain riddled with biases and errors” (and “sloppy and unreliable kludges”), I like to cite this wikipedia article. If you printed out that list of cognitive biases, it would stretch for 10.5 pages.
- “Moral uncertainty induces movement uncertainty” is reviewed in this article. It’s a more general phenomenon about cognitive states influencing action, but the more difficult yes/no judgment questions include ones like “is murder ever justified?” (See the “High-Level Decision Making” section, starting on page 4.)
- “Conscious memory is an unreliable reconstruction” is a widely-known phenomenon, but there’s a good academic review here, and good wikipedia examples here (including the “see also” links at the bottom).
- The presence of separate systems for vision-for-perception and vision-for-action is a discovery of wikipedia-level magnitude.
- The way optical illusions separate vision-for-perception from vision-for-action was first confirmed here…
- …and here is the specific example of the Ebbinghaus Illusion unaffected by vision-for-action. This is one of my all-time-favorite articles, because its main thrust is about the strange interaction between the two visual subsystems and handedness. But that’s a whole separate article.
- The role of the cerebellum in movement self-prediction has been understood since at least 1998.
- The Affordance Competition Hypothesis is best described in this 2010 review, but sadly not available for free anywhere online. The 2007 original article is available, but much less readable.
- If you want to watch those neurons following the ACH, those data originally come from this 2005 study, though you can find a lovely graphical summary in the article linked in #5, as well as the 2010 article in #11.
Finally, if you haven’t read the essay “The Brain is Not a Computer” (Aeon magazine, May 2016), I recommend it. I agree with its overall direction, and I think it makes a lot of good points, but it fails because it relies on a straw-man misunderstanding of the IP model, tied to the specifics of computer architecture. The internet is full of rebuttals, and largely fair ones. That’s why I wrote “The Evolved Brain” to show not why the IP model is wrong, but instead why it’s unhelpful, if your goal is to understand the human brain and experience.
2016 is drawing to a close, and in terms of my writing, it’s been an incomprehensibly good year. I’ve had the immense good fortune to sell and publish five short stories. I hope you’ll read some of them, and enjoy them; and if you consider anything I’ve done worthy of some kind of award nomination, I would be thrilled and flattered beyond belief.
I list my stories below in approximate order of pride, so if your time is limited, I strongly recommend #1. Insofar as I’m pushing one story as award-worthy, it’s “The First Confirmed Case of Non-Corporeal Recursion: Patient Anita R.“
Only a terrible parent would show such favoritism. But thankfully, we can show love for the whole family! I speak with the utmost of blustery impostor syndrome pride when I point out that this will be my first year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and if you enjoy my body of work, I hope you’ll consider me.
See footnotes for each story’s award recommendations & nominations.
Thank you for reading!
- The First Confirmed Case of Non-Corporeal Recursion: Patient Anita R. (Strange Horizons, June 2016; modern fantasy, 3400 words). A ghost story, with a classic recurrent haunting, but told from the ghost’s perspective. Also the ghost used to be a scientist. About how relationships survive or change across gulfs of habit, time, space, and death. Publication notes here, audio version here.
- Meltwater (Strange Horizons, March 2016; science fiction, 2200 words). Love among the posthuman. The less I spoil about it, the better. Publication notes here, audio version here.
- The Time Cookie Wars (Flash Fiction Online, August 2016; science fiction, 970 words). Time travel black comedy! About all those times you blame your past self for your mistakes, and also about delicious baked goods. Publication notes here.
- Sweeter than Lead (PodCastle, July 2016; dark fantasy, 2700 words). Neo-Lovecraftian: cosmic dread in the face of a hostile universe, without the underpinnings of racism and xenophobia. About addiction, succession, and malevolent prophecies. Publication notes here, audio version here.
- Shiplight (Metaphorosis, September 2016; science fiction, 6100 words). Politics and popular uprisings on mankind’s first extrasolar colony. About the causes, costs, and inevitability of generational divides. Publication notes here.
I’m pleased to announce that my first published short story, “The Wind and the Spark,” will appear as a reprint in Digital Science Fiction! This is one of my older stories, but I’m thrilled to re-release it: it’s currently only available in a paid issue of a magazine that went defunct before it published me, so not a lot of people have read it. Stay tuned for a publication date.