Category Archives: Publications

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 Gentry

Earlier this year, I wrote about my Fairy Gentrification Story: how it sold to PerVisions right before the magazine folded. But joy be upon us, “The Gentry” has now sold to Kaleidotrope!

The diner with the portal between worlds closed down years ago, but our last stranded fairy chevalier will make it home in 2020.

This makes 5.5 short story acceptance letters in 2018 (the half is WotF), but the first one that has led to a contract.

Toward Lands Uncharted

Updated September 2018: I have the paperback anthology in my hands at last: the award-winning anthology Mind Candy (Myriad Paradigm Press), containing “Toward Lands Uncharted,” my fantasy story about a spy and diplomat who must try and protect her conquered nation from the capricious power of imperial border-magic.

Mind Candy cover photo

Check out the anthology’s fine new cover, and pick up a copy on Amazon!

This story began in a writing exercise for Mary Robinette Kowal’s Short Story Intensive workshop in summer 2016. My core idea was the Censor of Maps: someone who changes maps, and in doing so, rewrites the nations beneath. Not so fictional at all, since it’s inspired by the Sykes-Picot agreement, where an imperial power made a single callous decision that builds and destroys nations. (Hardly the only instance of such a thing.) But need a speculative/magical element in my historical fiction, so I made the political into the literal: a magic that erases nations, places, and peoples.

I very nearly named this story “Sic Hunt Draconis:” here be dragons. The unknown spaces, the fears and possibilities we write into the uncharted spaces of our lives. But it would’ve been a terrible bait-and-switch to use that title in a story with no actual dragons!

Where the Anchor Lies

February is upon us, and with it, the publication of my short story Where the Anchor Lies at Beneath Ceaseless Skies! The long anticipated Sentient Battleship Graveyard Propagandist Love Story.

This is a piece of science fantasy, right on the strange and fuzzy borderline between genres. It’s a secondary world, and all of the mechanisms are fantastic/magical, but their implementation and culture feels quite modern. It’s definitely a “sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology” situation.

A few more thoughts and discussion below. No major spoilers, but let’s be careful anyways, yes?

Continue reading

Pre-Publication: Where the Anchor Lies

So, technically the Sentient Battleship Graveyard Romance Propaganda story comes out next month… but if you want early access, you can read it right now by ordering the Beneath Ceaseless Skies Science-Fantasy Double Issue! You get a weird and hopefully-wonderful story from me, full of propagandist-generals and the grandeur of the past – and stories by the inestimable Yoon Ha Lee and Maurice Broadus, all for $1.99!

If your cashflow is weak, be not afraid – stay tuned here for announcements & story notes in mid-February when the online free version comes out!

Awards Eligibility 2017

We have passed the end of 2017, into the beginning of 2018, and that means the Eye of Awards have fallen upon us all, with its bleak and terrifying gaze.

I sold five stories to professional markets in 2017, but three of them will be published in 2018, leaving me with only two pieces of new fiction for 2017:

  • The Setting of the Sun, in Compelling Science Fiction: a 1300-word piece encompassing nine hundred million years in the life of a Dyson swarm.
  • Cyborg Shark Battle (Season 4, O’ahu Frenzy), in the Cat’s Breakfast anthology: an 800-word satire about backstage politics in a remote-controlled-shark-combat reality TV show. Also it is the most neuroscientific thing I have yet published.1
    • Reprint now available for online at Curious Fictions, or email me for a copy!

Also, 2017 was my second and final year of eligibility for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. In my two years of eligibility I have:

  1. Published seven original short stories, six of them in professional magazines: Strange Horizons twice, PodCastle, Flash Fiction Online, Cat’s Breakfast anthology (Third Flatiron Press), and Compelling Science Fiction. Also one semi-pro story at Metaphorosis.
  2. Sold another three professional short stories (to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mind Candy, and Diabolical Plots), but those won’t be out until 2018.
  3. Served as the Assistant Editor of Escape Pod since May 2017. In this role, I decide which stories to pass up to our illustrious Co-Editors, write ≥ 80% of the personal rejection letters2, and recruit & manage our amazing team of Associate Editors (first readers). I’ve also increased our editorial transparency to our process, with a writeup of our pipeline and rejection letters here.
  4. Published nonfiction pieces about neuroscience in Clarkesworld, the File 770 blog, and Baen.com. I later expanded the Clarkesworld one into a solo presentation at the 2017 Nebula conference.
  5. Written thirty-one Twitter essays (and more in 2018) about neuroscience via my NeuroThursday feature.
  6. Been recommended by Rich Horton for this here Campbell Award!

The nonfiction in #4-5 also makes me eligible for the Best Fan Writer Hugo Award. More thoughts and details on that here!

It’s hard to believe I’ve been a so-called “pro” for only two years. In that time I’ve accomplished a lot more that doesn’t fit on that list (written novel, edited novel, started querying novel, sold another couple short stories), but most important of all is the amazing community I’ve found: at workshops (well before I was doing anything “pro” myself!), conventions, online, and in person. So many new friends, mentors, and fellow-travelers out there, and I’m honored to know every one of you.

I’d love to conclude with some recommendations, since there are so many amazing writers out there, new and veteran, young and old. Unfortunately, the majority of my reading happens in the Escape Pod slush pile these days, so I don’t read nearly broadly enough. I look forward to reading your recommendations in the weeks and months (and years) to come!

But speaking of Escape Pod, if you’re pondering Hugo nominations, may I suggest our fine podcast for Best Semiprozine? Remember that our editorial turnover happened in early 2017, so this year make sure to list Norm Sherman as well as Divya Breed & Mur Lafferty as editors.

The Setting of the Sun

Story release day is upon us! I’m pleased to offer you all The Setting of the Sun, a short tale about the passage of time, in all its swiftness and languor.

It came out today in Compelling Science Fiction, a wonderful new pro magazine showcasing “plausible science fiction” – defined as SF that doesn’t break suspension of disbelief for scientists and engineers. (A term I find superior to the traditional “hard SF,” which is notoriously subjective and hard to define.)

This story is in competition for the Guinness record on “longest timeline-to-wordcount ratio,” as a 1300-word story that covers nine hundred million years of time.

A few additional notes below…

Continue reading

Reprint: The Wind and the Spark

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!

Publication: Cyborg Shark Battle

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!