Short Story Sale: For Every Bee, a Hive

Sale announcement: my science fiction short story “For Every Bee, a Hive” will appear in Analog Science Fiction & Fact!

This is the story I read an excerpt of at the Space Opera Themed Reading at Worldcon 2022 (Chicon 8): The story of Tamar, cyborg salvager, scraping out a life on the edge of an AI-dominated solar system. When her ship is crippled by a mysterious new weapon, her only source of aid is a lonely little piece of her people’s most dangerous enemies: an element of an AI swarm.

Didn’t matter why the AI wanted to connect. Didn’t matter whether the AI wanted at all. Only mattered what she wanted.

The free humans had survived all these centuries by adapting. By taking new technologies into themselves and becoming what they needed to be. And now she needed to be a survivor.

“For Every Bee, a Hive” is also my examination of what it might mean for humankind to enhance itself with cybernetics: the opportunities we have for technology to improve the way we function by supporting, not replacing, the brains that we have. And my exploration of the Found Family trope in space opera – and how that yearning for family parallels an AI swarm’s dream of growth.

Watch for “For Every Bee, a Hive” in Analog Magazine, likely in 2024!

Publication: The Work-Clock

My gaslamp fantasy short story, “The Work-Clock,” is out today in Sunday Morning Transport!

This is the story of Apprentice Inspector Zek, who just wants to keep his job fixing the air-conditioning runes in the industrialized prison for the Evil One. Excuse me, the for-profit industrialized prison for the Evil One.

Funny thing. The world would bleed and die without an apprentice inspector to keep the Temple Works running, but didn’t mean the job paid well.

The story is free to read, but you can also get a free 60-day subscription to the Sunday Morning Transport here. Check it out, and consider supporting all the fine sources of short speculative fiction out there!

More story notes below the fold, will contain spoilers.

Continue reading Publication: The Work-Clock

Reprint: Machines in Motion

Late breaking 2022 reprint! The anthology Holiday Leftovers anthology (B Cubed Press) is out today with my short story Machines
in Motion. It originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of the now-defunct magazine Hybrid Fiction. I’m delighted that my gritty little tale is back online where the world can read it. Get yourself a copy, and support the
small presses that keep SFF publishing alive & scrappy!

This story is not about your Christmas-style holidays. It is about Shabbat, the weekly Jewish holiday of rest. But it has a dark and intimate angle on Shabbat, and on having the grit to do the work we choose, for better or for worse.

Also steampunk military fiction, because hell yes I write what I want.

Eszter spent her first battle in breathless fear, not of some errant shell or cannonball, but of the engineers.

For further story notes, check out Machines in Motion’s original publication post!

2022 in Review & Awards Eligibility

Another year, not just come and gone, but survived and conquered! I only published 2-3 original stories in 2022, but I sold a lot of pieces (13 acceptances, including 7 reprints, 5 originals, and 1 that didn’t become a sale), so expect a bumper crop of short fiction from me in the next year or so. This year I only produced a couple of new stories, because a most of my time has gone into science, parenting, and the Cyborg Space Opera Cold War Spy Novel, which is currently at about 62k words.

If you’re just here to learn where to find me in the Decaying Social Media Hellscape, scroll on down to the bottom.

Otherwise, if you’re looking for some stories to enjoy, or reading for SFF awards, I’d love to share these 2022 publications with you!

Original Stories

  1. A Start to Judgment – Kaleidotrope, September 2022 (epic fantasy, 1500 words). Guilt, self-recrimination, messing with Chosen One tropes. CW: suicidal ideation.
    • “Arsha plays the role expected of her, though she’s known for years how their rebellion will end.”
    • Reviewed by Maria Haskins and Sam Tomaino
  2. The Successors – Shoreline of Infinity, December 2022 (science fiction, 1900 words). Immortality, death, robots grieving for humans.  One of my most neuroscience-inspired pieces, as detailed in the story notes.
    • “Sandarac knew he should call himself lucky to watch his human die and reawaken. Most androids never got a human at all, let alone the chance to lose one.”
    • If you can’t afford to buy the issue of SoI, contact me for a private copy of the story.
  3. [Not Nebula-eligible in 2022]: A Living Planet – Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Jan/Feb 20221. First contact, loneliness. Based on the true story of being The Martian’s Husband.
    • “Be the sturdy rock of home, the planet’s solid ground awaiting her return.”
    • PDF version available here, other formats on private request

Reprints

  1. Conference of the Birds – Dreamforge Anvil, Fall 2022 (science fiction, 3900 words). AI and distributed minds. Another one of my neuroscience-heavy pieces, I wrote a whole article about the underlying science.
    • “No program-layer could predict what a human might do, but Surveillance Hub could see everything that mattered.”
    • Original publication: Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Jan/Feb 2021
  2. Eight Reasons You Are Alone – Flash Fiction Online, June 2022 (science fiction, 900 words). Conscience and self-definition.
    • “If I asked you what kind of person you are, you wouldn’t know the answer.”
    • Original publication: Nature Futures, November 2021
  3. Machines in Motion – Holiday Leftovers anthology, B Cubed Press, December 2022 (steampunk, 4200 words). Grit, engineering, sacrifice.
    • “Eszter spent her first battle in breathless fear, not of some errant shell or cannonball, but of the engineers.”
    •  Original publication: Hybrid Fiction (defunct), Sep 2020.

Other Award Recommendations

If you’re nominating for the Hugo Awards, I hope you’ll consider Escape Pod for Best Semiprozine. We’ve put out a lot of great stories, and been at the vanguard of Escape Artists’ efforts to do right by our authors in every way we can.

Also, please consider our co-editors Mur Lafferty & Valerie Valdes (as a two-person team) for Best Editor Short Form!

Social Media

Twitter has been the writers’ mainstay for many years, but it’s currently undergoing… challenges. I’m still over there for the foreseeable future, but I’ve also staked out a presence on Mastodon and (to a lesser extent) Instagram. I technically have a Facebook page but it’s rarely active, mostly just updates. You can always check my Linktree page for secondary/new places that might arise. But the best way to keep up with news about my stories & science is via my mailing list, right there in the sidebar!

Publication: The Successors

My science fiction short story “The Successors” is out today in Shoreline of Infinity 33!

Sandarac knew he should call himself lucky to watch his human die and reawaken. Most androids never got a human at all, let alone the chance to lose one.

A short story about grief, and transformation. About the impossibility of human immortality, and what the AIs will do after we’re gone.

This is one of my most neuroscience-inspired stories. The explanation isn’t very spoilery: it only “spoils” the premise, which is fully spelled out in the first page or two. Nevertheless, I’ve hidden the details under the fold just in case.

Please consider supporting all the fine magazines that bring excellent short fiction to the world, and buy a digital or paper copy today!

Continue reading Publication: The Successors

Dice Geeks Podcast Interview

There’s an interview with me this week’s episode of the inimitable Dice Geeks podcast! In their “Writing Science Fiction” episode, I dredge up my rusty knowledge and finely-honed love of tabletop RPGs, and discuss how prose fiction can (and should) draw from – and differ from – the stories that emerge from TTRPGs.

The episode title says “science fiction” but I promise at least as much fantasy content as science fiction! Give the interview a listen from their site, spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Short Story Sale: The Work-Clock

Sale announcement: my gaslamp fantasy short story “The Work-Clock” will appear in Sunday Morning Transport!

This was the story I wrote in spring 2020, as I watched the economy demonstrate a complete inability to survive if everyone stopped their meaningless busy-work for a month. Did I mention it’s a gaslamp fantasy? Epic fantasy, maybe? With an industrialized prison for the Evil One? I’m super proud of this one, and I’m glad it’s found an excellent home.

Zek tightened his tool belt and hustled through the Temple Works’ core. The clocks kept ticking, without one damn care why a man might fall behind.

Offices all morning, plus the factory floor, and a few other one-offs in between. Should need three people to check so many runes, but journeymen and master inspectors got vacation, and the apprentice better pick up the slack.

Had to keep someone on duty, true thing. Templars needed the factory’s money and magic for their real work, keeping the Destroyer sealed up forever below.

Funny thing. The world would bleed and die without an apprentice inspector to keep the Temple Works running, but didn’t mean the job paid well.

I don’t have a timeline on its publication, but probably in the next six months. If you want to make sure you don’t miss it, sign up for my newsletter – or better yet, sign up for Sunday Morning Transport and help support the best in short speculative fiction!

Archon 45 schedule

This weekend is Archon 45, the midwest’s premier SFF convention!

I’ll be there during the daytime on Saturday and Sunday – no parties for me due to the lack of vaccine policy. But you can still find me on plenty of panels. Here’s my schedule!

Unimportant Details or Enhancing the Scene?

1 Oct 2022, Saturday 12:00 – 13:00, Salon 4 (Gateway Center)
A discussion about why background fluff and other trivialities matter in a game.
Dana Lockhart (M), Benjamin C. Kinney, Michales Joy

It Takes More Than a Hook to Reel In a Reader

1 Oct 2022, Saturday 14:00 – 15:00, Salon 2 (Gateway Center)
You’ve got a great idea and a killer opening sentence but you don’t know where to go with it. Is there a book in it or just a short story? Or maybe it’s not as clever as you first thought.
Cynthianna/ Celine Chatillon (M), Jack Snyder, Benjamin C. Kinney, Kathleen Collins

I’m Afraid I Can’t Do That, Dave: Machine Learning and AI in Space

2 Oct 2022, Sunday 10:00 – 11:00, Salon 1 (Gateway Center)
Computers becoming sentient has been both in the news and on the big screen. How realistic is that scenario? How could those developments actually be beneficial in the harsh environment of space?
Anastasa Yanchilinia (M), Benjamin C. Kinney, Daniel Van Hoesen

It’s Not All Saving the World: What Do Real Scientists Actually Do?

2 Oct 2022, Sunday 11:00 – 12:00, Salon 1 (Gateway Center)
Ever wonder what real scientists do? It’s not like in the movies (unfortunately).
Benjamin C. Kinney (M), Bob Perry, Daniel Van Hoesen

Chicon 8 Schedule

Here’s my schedule for ChiCon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention, in Chicago IL on September 1-5 2022!

Don’t forget, in addition to all this, you can also come see me lose a Hugo Award in the Best Semiprozine category.

“Table Talk” is the beverage-free version of the olde Kaffeklatch. Sign up for it and you can have a small-group face-to-face chat with me, about neuroscience or Escape Pod or any ol’ thing.

I hope to see some of you there!

Publication: A Start to Judgment

They think she can do anything. They're almost right. Her voice can destroy anyone but the two people who deserve it.My fantasy short story “A Start to Judgment” is free to read today in the Summer 2022 issue of Kaleidotrope!

Story content warnings: suicidal ideation, self-harm.

“A Start to Judgment” is a full-scale epic fantasy: preparation for the Final Battle against the malevolent god, the two-pronged waging of the Final Battle, and the face-to-face confrontation between hero and god. All packed into 1500 words (3-5 pages)!

Epic fantasy confrontation is a familiar trope. But how will it unfold differently if the Chosen One knows that her power comes from the very thing she is trying to overthrow?

Arsha plays the role expected of her, though she’s known for years how their rebellion will end. She thought she could endure one last survey of her knights and archers and footmen before the final battle, but the guilt still cracks her insides like a pickaxe. The free people of the world have placed their faith in her, the Chosen One. Tomorrow she’ll face the Flensed Lord and betray them all.

As always, support those fine websites that bring you so much free fiction!

Spoilery notes below the fold. Go read the story first, it won’t take you long!

Continue reading Publication: A Start to Judgment

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