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.

This story arose from the Horror that is Thursday at Viable Paradise. The external plot is pretty much as originally written, but none of the neuroprosthetic stuff was there in that initial version – very classic SF feel, focused on a Person Vs. Environment conflict. I had to write a story that would fit in an anthology called “Steam’n Spaceships,” and I managed to write a spaceship-based story where water vapor plays a major plot role.

Viable Paradise left a mark on this story in a second way. In the very first draft, I amused myself by including an inside joke, a bit of silly rebellion against our lecture about descriptions and purple prose.

Warning: this story may contain alabaster globes.

(Fuel tanks, painted titanium-white. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

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