Story Sale: A Living Planet (The Martian’s Husband)

Short story sale announcement: my near future science fiction story “A Living Planet” has sold to Analog Science Fiction and Fact! Publication date not set, but I’d expect late 2021.

This story has an unofficial second title: “The Martian’s Husband.” It’s inspired by the year I spent from summer 2015 to summer 2016, while my wife was on the crew of a year-long NASA-funded simulated Mars mission, with all our communications on a twenty-minute delay. This story means a lot to me, and it took me three years to get it ready to my satisfaction, and I’m so glad it found a home at a great magazine like Analog.

The spacecraft Hawai’iloa has fallen silent, halfway to Mars. Ethan’s wife is up there, receding and unreachable. But he still has a boss to win over, a job to keep. There’s nothing glamorous about his spot on the mission control team of an uncrewed orbital-cleanup spacecraft, but Ethan needs that simplicity. It keeps his eyes on the solid Earth and everything that might keep him sane, instead of raised to the emptiness above.

He’s waiting for word from space. But the Hawai’iloa might not be the only thing up there trying to contact Earth.

Real Live Martian

So for all of you who’ve heard me claim I’m married to a Martian, I present to you Dr. Sheyna Gifford’s talk from TEDx Gateway Arch, October 2017. Click through for her full bio, or just bask in the space-suited awesomeness.

Mars Landing

So, remember a year ago when I said my wife was going to Mars?

Well, she’s on her way back. Tomorrow morning, she steps out of the dome, back to Earth; still the red-rock slopes of Mauna Loa, but with no spacesuit on, and the breeze in her face for the first time in a year.

I am excited beyond words. So far beyond words that I’ve had no brainspan to update this blog, not even after the amazing time I had at my first Worldcon. No promises that I’ll have a monthly update this week, either. I may have some downtime on Hawaii while she spends her days in debriefing, but I rather expect some internet scarcity!

If you want to read more about her mission, check out her blog or the mission webpage. I’d also love to point you toward the kickstarter for “Red Heaven,” an upcoming documentary about the mission. Both my wife and I have already worked with the creators & crew, and they’re amazing people, excited about the science and project. Consider supporting them – or just enjoy the trailer!

July 2016 Update

How was your July? Was it amazing? Mine was!

  1. My story “Sweeter than Lead” came out at PodCastle. Neo-Lovecraftian dark fantasy about addiction, succession and malevolent timelines!
  2. My story “The Time Cookie Wars” came out at Flash Fiction Online1. Black comedy about time travel and delicious cookies!
  3. I finished the first draft of the Conquistador Dragon novel: 106,000 words of Age of Exploration epic fantasy, now titled The Cannon and the Coin!
  4. I got my Worldcon panel schedule!
  5. I attended Mary Robinette Kowal‘s short story intensive workshop. Folks this class is fantastic. My favorite parts were the tools for expanding ideas into stories at turbo speed, and especially the methods for plot structuring. And in the process I wrote up the openings to two super exciting new stories.

I think that’s it? It sure feels like enough! This coming month will bring yet more of the joyful chaos. Two weeks until Worldcon! And after that, only one week until my wife returns from Mars!

Mars: Day 205

We’re nearly 7 months in to my wife’s simulated Mars mission, and it’s time for a little update.

Her thoughts at the 6 month mark, and at day 200: the bewilderment of an I-love-Justin-Bieber sticker collection secreted away by previous Mars crews, the shocking intensity of a fresh tomato.

But you don’t just have to read about it: you can watch the crew in action via short videos in all kinds of places, such as their weekly slot on the History Channel show History NOW,  BBC Stargazing, or at VICE Media.

If you watch that last one, you will see my secret identity – and more importantly, my highly photogenic cats!

If you want to keep abreast on news from the mission, let me know via email or comment! This is entirely distinct from my author mailing list.

Archon Panel Schedule

I am pleased to announce my first appearance as an official1 convention panelist!

I will be at Archon 39, in Colinsville IL (near St. Louis MO) on the weekend of October 2-4, 2015.

My panel schedule:

  • Technical Tall Tales: Strange and Frightening Tales of the Lab, Friday 7pm, Great Rivers A
  • Big Things on the Horizon: New Tech and Scientific Discoveries, Saturday 10am, Great Rivers A
  • The Martian: Could YOU Survive the Red Planet? Saturday 12pm, Great Rivers A
  • Beginning Writing and the Creative Process, Saturday 6pm, Marquette A

I’m very pleased with this lineup! Two panels where I can talk about neuroscience, one where I can share expertise gleaned from Mars, and one where I can share the pleasures and horrors of life as a newbie SFF writer.

Panel #3 leads to some amusing logistical problems. I doubt I’ll be able to catch the movie version of The Martian before the panel, since the movie comes out right when Archon opens. I’ll try to arrange a special video message from my family Martian, but that may not work out for a host of reasons.

August 2015 Update

August was another month of chaos and travel, not to mention my day job finally spinning up. But I still got a fair bit of writing done!

  1. Ten stories currently out on submission, of which at least 3 have made it onto a shortlist. I’m pretty enthusiastic for all three, but at this point I just need to think of them as dice-throws.
  2. Currently juggling two revisions: Evil Prophecies and Fairy Gentrification.
  3. Long-term plans currently center around one smaller-scale revision (Banker Priestesses) and one deep rewrite (Conquistador Dragons).
  4. Apparently I like two-word Compound Nouns for my working titles. I do have actual/tentative titles for all these stories, but those have much less descriptive power for my blog-readers.
  5. As of this past Friday, I can officially start my “The Martian’s Husband” autobiography. Being married to a Martian is an amazing and terrifying thing, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Part of me wants to post something about the Hugo results. However, I haven’t been active in fandom since ~college; I’ve never been to Worldcon or had a friend go to Worldcon. So while I have opinions1, I’d rather clear the airspace for people more invested in the struggle.

But speaking of engagement in fandom:

6. With luck, I should be participating in Archon as a guest! I can’t be 100% sure until the panel schedule comes out, but I’ve gotten a “first time guest/panelist” questionnaire, so things are looking likely. I’ll be doing mostly/entirely science panels, since my writing credentials are still fairly meager (unless #1 above turns out real lucky real soon).  I’m very excited about this: I’m slow to engage in communities because I’m a hermit at heart, and this will help toward my goal of pushing myself out there and joining in.

The Martian’s Husband

This month I’ve been lax on blogging, and a little bit lax on writing, as life has grown increasingly chaotic. I’ve been busy helping my wife prepare for her trip to Mars.

That’s right. Mars.

My wife is a simulated astronaut for the upcoming HI-SEAS Mars simulation mission. She and the rest of the crew will spend a year on a cold red-rock slope, living in a solar-powered dome, never stepping outside without an EVA suit. It’s all part of NASA-funded research to study the conditions and crew dynamics of long missions in space.

She can explain it better than I can, of course. Here she is giving a radio interview, and here’s her blog, chock full of info on life and hijinks on sMars or preparation thereof. You can also follow her twitter feed at @humansareawesme.

Her blog has lots of great info for science fiction writers: you will find no better expert on Earth on the space-age challenges and surprises of living in an isolated human habitat beyond the edge of human civilization!

By the time you read this, she’ll be on her way to California and Hawaii for pre-mission training, and then the airlock will seal on the 28th. I’m going to miss her enormously during her year on Mars, but we’ll have ways to keep in touch while she’s gone. Besides, I always wanted to marry a Martian.

I say that last bit flippantly, but reveals a fundamental truth. I married her because she reaches for the stars, more literally than most of us can imagine. I wouldn’t have it any other way.