Category Archives: Short Stories

Time Cookie Wars audio reprint at Toasted Cake

Need snack on a long cold weekend? Now’s your chance to hear the Time Cookie Wars podcasted at last! Meet all your black comedy science fiction needs (and cookie hungers) via Tina Connolly’s wonderful reading in episode 208 of the Toasted Cake podcast.

Time Cookie Wars is a story about… what it says on the tin. Wars, across time, for cookies. Though I suppose you could read my original story notes for more info on what brought us to levy such judgment on our past selves.

P.S. I actually like peanut butter cookies. But they’re nothing compared to Milanos.

2018 in Review & Awards Eligibility

Another year is coming to a close, and much to show for it, ups and downs and every direction. I finished the first draft of a new novel, and worked on more short stories than I can shake a metaphor at. I made the Campbell Award longlist! I lost a Hugo award with the rest of the amazing Escape Pod team, and took part as we won and rejected a Parsec award. My final submission to Writers of the Future became a finalist, but I withdrew my story over ethical concerns. I sold 4 original stories, but two of those sales fell through when the magazines closed.

I had five original stories come out in 2018. In chronological order:

  1. Toward Lands Uncharted – Mind Candy, Feb 2018 (secondary world fantasy, 4900 words). A diplomat and spy must try to save her nation and its very history from their conqueror’s Sykes-Picot border magic.
  2. Where the Anchor Lies – Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Feb 2018 (science fantasy, 4000 words). A general visits the grave of the sentient battleship she loved, to use it as a political tool.
  3. The Seeds We Plant – Compelling SF special issue, Sep 2018 (science fiction, 2200 words). When a colony ship suffers a brutal accident, the pilot must reply on his emotional-control neuroprosthesis to save his cargo.
    • Not available free online. Contact me for a copy in the format of your choice.
  4. Elegy of Carbon – The Internet Is Where The Robots Live Now, Nov 2018 (science fiction, 4100 words). In the waning days of the solar system, a mining AI must find a new way to fulfill the purpose it loves.1
    • Not available free online. Contact me for a copy in the format of your choice.
  5. The Hammer’s Prayer – Diabolical Plots, Dec 2018 (contemporary fantasy, 3300 words). A golem hides away in ugly places, to help him resist the compulsion to share his gift of animation.2
    • If you only have time to read one story, this is the one I recommend.

I didn’t have much time for nonfiction this year, but I did publish:

  1. The chapter “What’s Possible with Cyborgs and Cybernetics” in Putting the Science in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books). I’m also quite proud of my associated writing-prompts post, “Machines, You, and Other Synonyms.”
    • Putting the Science in Fiction – a collection of 59 essays by scientists and other experts, designed to help authors write with authenticity – is eligible for the Hugo award for Best Related Work .
  2. Twelve new entries in the #NeuroThursday Twitter feature.

If you’re in a position to nominate for awards of any kind, I hope you’ll consider not only these fine works, but the whole team over at Escape Pod. We work hard every week to bring you the finest in audio fiction, and we’ll be eligible once again for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. We also published a lot of awesome stories, so take a look back at that list and see if one of them feels worthy of your love too!

Publication: The Hammer’s Prayer

The Hammer’s Prayer, my short story about a golem secretly working in the depths of Logan Airport, is now live on the Diabolical Plots website! This story was previously available as past of the Diabolical Plots Year Four anthology, but now it’s online for everyone to read.

This story is, I think, a brand new take on the golem myth. What if the word of life was no mere static gift, but a vibrant and contagious thing, begging to spread breath to new lungs?

I showed up early for work, as always. The airport’s underbelly was the ugliest place in Boston, but I would’ve spent every hour there if I could get away with it. Among the hurried machines and distant reek-sweet jet fuel, I had everything I needed. A purpose, a paycheck, a place to hide; and most of all, a land of function without beauty, where nothing would tempt me to invest it with holiness and life.

Further thoughts below the fold. No true spoilers, but why not read the story first anyways?

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Publication: Elegy of Carbon

My science fiction short story, “Elegy of Carbon,” is now available in the anthology The Internet Is Where The Robots Live Now! This exciting anthology offers 20 short stories about the intertwined lives of human and machine, from near-future to space opera.Anthology cover

About the anthology:

We are headed for convergence. The separation between mind and matter, robot and man, the artificial and the sublime is becoming less every day. Will the human race survive the reckoning? Will we crash into extinction or wake to a future beyond our current comprehension? Join Mari Ness, Benjamin C. Kinney, Aimee Ogden, Monica Louzon, Sharon Diane King, Deepak Bharathan, Kevin Daniel Lonano, Vajra Chandrasekera, Marie Vibbert, S.H. Mansouri, Nikki Macahon, Krishan Coupland, Premee Mohamed, David Rogers, Priya Sridhar, Rhoads Brazos, Matt Fuchs, Conor Powers-Smith, Maria Haskins, and Claudio J.A. Espinal as they tell twenty unique stories exploring the thinning space between human and machine.

“Elegy of Carbon” is the story I like to call the Brave Little ToasterMining AI. The miner finishes its mission, no carbonaceous asteroids left in its territory to mine for diamonds. What, then, is a mining AI to do, in a solar system cold and empty yet very much still populated?

Keep reading for some spoiler-free notes about its creation and inspiration…

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Publication: The Seeds We Plant

My short story, “The Seeds We Plant,” is now available on Amazon as part of the Compelling Science Fiction special issue! This special was originally available as a companion for their anthology kickstarter, but now you can buy it directly. Contains five original short stories from Compelling SF authors, including Pip Coen, Deborah Davitt, Mike Adamson, Steve Wire, and myself.

“The Seeds We Plant” is a story about brain-machine interfaces for emotional control: a neuroprosthetic device in the most literal sense, serving as an artificial (and externally controllable) replacement for a neural system that isn’t functioning as desired. This technology provides a way to guide and control a spaceship pilot, not by influencing their thoughts and actions, but by telling them what to care about.

Which could be dystopic indeed. But what happens when the external control goes silent, and you have only your own implants to pull yourself toward some kind of salvation?

The worst moment came not when the collision alarm flashed in his lenses, not when he slammed back and forth and sideways in his restraints, not when every screen went black. No, the worst moment came afterward, when Nathan tried to ride his adrenalinesurge toward the next action, and his fear dropped out from under him. His limbic net caught one last blip, a pulse of relief from the nursery, and then fell quiet. No fear meant no incoming signals–no equipment left alive in the ship, except in Nathan and the nursery.

Read below for some more thoughts & references, including some extremely minor spoilers.

Continue reading

TIIWTRLN – Cover, ToC, and Preorder

Check out this awesome cover for “The Internet is Where the Robots Live Now,” the upcoming anthology with my Brave Little ToasterMining AI story – now available for preorder!

Anthology cover

“The Internet Is Where The Robots Live Now” cover image

We are headed for convergence. The separation between mind and matter, robot and man, the artificial and the sublime is becoming less every day. Will we crash into extinction or wake to a future beyond our current comprehension? Join some of the brightest voices in science fiction today as they tell twenty unique stories exploring the thinning space between mind and machine.

Preorder your copy today! Contains original short stories from myself and nineteen other excellent authors including Vajra Chandrasekera, Maria Haskins, Premee Mohammed, and Aimee Ogden.

Anthology: Diabolical Plots Year Four

Earlier this month it was available for preorder, but now it’s live: you can get the Diabolical Plots Year Four anthology at your favorite ebook retailer!

Diabolical Plots Year 4 cover

For those of you who missed it last time, here’s a teaser:

I showed up early for work, as always. The airport’s underbelly was the ugliest place in Boston, but I would’ve spent every hour there if I could get away with it. Among the hurried machines and distant reek-sweet jet fuel, I had everything I needed. A purpose, a paycheck, a place to hide; and most of all, a land of function without beauty, where nothing would tempt me to invest it with holiness and life.

This is one of the stories to appear in the anthology before it comes free online at Diabolical Plots. You could sit tight for another couple of months… but why wait, when you can get it as part of such a delightful anthology?

I’ll release some more author notes about the story when the free version comes out, but here are two spoiler-free tidbits:

  1. In early drafts, the beach had bioluminescent jellyfish, an explicit homage to the Martha’s Vineyard jellies familiar to alumni of Viable Paradise. Alas, their metaphorical value was too flimsy to survive edits. Nevertheless, you can blame Robert Dawson for the writing prompt.
  2. In early drafts, the statuette was a rocket ship rather than a motorcycle. Specifically/implicitly, it was somebody’s Hugo award. I cut that for excess self-indulgence.

Preorder: Diabolical Plots Year Four

My latest story, “The Hammer’s Prayer,” will be coming out very soon in the Diabolical Plots Year Four anthology. Just look at this gorgeous cover! With my name amidst a whole bunch of other amazing writers!

Diabolical Plots Year 4 cover

If you want to support Diabolical Plots, you can preorder the anthology today via the link above. If you want to help out, consider preordering it today. Sales beget algorithms beget sales, so if you’re thinking of picking it up, preorder is best.

And now, a teaser for my tale, of a golem cursed or blessed with a contagious animation:

I showed up early for work, as always. The airport’s underbelly was the ugliest place in Boston, but I would’ve spent every hour there if I could get away with it. Among the hurried machines and distant reek-sweet jet fuel, I had everything I needed. A purpose, a paycheck, a place to hide; and most of all, a land of function without beauty, where nothing would tempt me to invest it with holiness and life.

If you want to keep reading, get yourself a copy of that anthology!

Story Sale: The Seeds We Plant

I’m delighted to announce that my short story “The Seeds We Plant” will appear in Compelling Science Fiction – specifically, in their kickstarter bonus issue! If you go back that kickstarter, you’ll not only get an awesome print edition of their anthology (containing a reprint of my Sentient Dyson Swarm story and 26 more tales), you’ll also get to read a brand-new story by me, full of classic science fictional Person Vs. Environment challenges and emotional-control cybernetic implants!