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

Reprint: Eight Reasons You Are Alone

My science fiction story “Eight Reasons You Are Alone” was reprinted today in Flash Fiction Online! If you missed it when it first appeared in Nature Futures last year, here’s your chance to read my dark little story about sitting with the consequences of what you’ve done. You’ll have plenty of time to think, when there’s nobody left to talk to.

Flash Fiction Online has made the piece free to read. But as always, consider subscribing to the websites & magazines that bring you the free short fiction you love!

1. Haste.
Ceres
Shipyard had enough emergency shuttles for almost everyone. But because of you, none of that mattered.

Short Story Sale: Driftwood

Sale announcement: my science fiction short story “Driftwood” will appear in Analog Science Fiction and Fact! This will be my fourth appearance in Analog, and will hit print sometime in the next 18 months.

Alien life may be unlike anything we know, difficult to spot, impossible to communicate with. But there are ways to detect its presence. But if you find those complex molecules once you’re already in orbit around a distant planet, what the hell do you do about it?

The drone’s telemetry scrolled up the side of my windowscreen, number after number building toward an answer, overlaid on the live view of Driftwood’s longest mountain range. One set of numbers blinked yellow, alongside an unfamiliar symbol. I paused the scroll. At the screen’s edge, my husband’s videocall continued in thumbnail, volume down low. I expanded the image to a size I could see. “I gotta run. Something’s going on with a geo drone.”

Short Story Sale: “Sufficiency”

Sale announcement: my science fiction short story “Sufficiency” will appear in Lightspeed Magazine! Publication date unknown, but sometime in the next 24 months.

A quiet little piece about needing to put down your living (plant) car. A little hopeful climate future, and a little bit of grappling with the American mythology of independence.

Jill wiped xylem from her gloves and closed her car’s leafy hood. She’d kept Snapdragon on the road for almost twenty years, and if the world would leave her alone, she could keep him alive for five more easy.

Story Sale: “Here at the Freezing End”

Sale announcement: my science fiction short story “Here at the Freezing End” will appear in Analog Science Fiction & Fact! Sometime in 2022 or 2023.

A short, dark tale. About triage, and the doomed rescuing the doomed, and salvaging what you can. Inspired in part by my time as a backcountry ski patroller in the Oregon Cascades, hauling toboggans over the snow for endless cold hours.

No rescue coming for the outpost. If the Federation still had starships of any kind, they were defending the homeworld four wormholes away. Bigger empires fought over its body now, the bones not yet cold in the ground.

Publication: A Living Planet

My short story “A Living Planet” came out today in the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact! This is my long-awaited “Martian’s Husband” story, inspired by my time at home during my wife’s year on Mars.

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.

Despite the Jan/Feb 2022 cover date, the issue is available now in bookstores and online, though subscriptions may take a few more weeks to reach your mailbox. You can subscribe to Analog in print or electronic, buy the current issue from Amazon, email Analog (customerservice @ pennypublications.com) to buy copies of individual issues, or find them in your local bookstore. Download a pdf of the story here.

An electronic version is available to SFWA members on the internal forum, or by direct request. The electronic version will go public here once the story leaves exclusivity in February 2022.

Story notes will appear are now up on the Astounding Analog Companion blog!

Story Sale: “A Start to Judgment”

Sale announcement: my epic fantasy short story “A Start to Judgment” will be appearing in Kaleidotrope! Sometime in 2022 or 2023.

I love this story. It’s got everything you need from epic fantasy: a doomed and self-blaming hero, the clash of armies, deep mythology, and a personal showdown with a malevolent god… all in 1500 words (~6 pages).

Everyone calls Arsha the Chosen One. But her power cannot dethrone the Flensed Lord, because her magic is a piece of His. When they come face to face, He will reclaim what He owns.

The truth wouldn’t save anyone. With or without her, He and His creatures will butcher the rebellion.

As long as she hides her fears, they can believe they’re dying for a purpose.

2021 in Review & Awards Eligibility

2021 is coming to a close. It’s been a wild year by any metric, but I’ve brought you all here today not for annual angst, but to look back on my publications in the past year. I’ve published 6-7 short stories (four pro, two semi-pro), and sold three; wrote up two interesting bits of nonfiction; and sent my AI Cold War novel out on query.

Whether you’re looking for some stories to enjoy, or reading for SFF awards, I’d love to share these 2021 publications with you!

Short Fiction

  1. I Would – Fantasy Magazine, July 2021 (secondary world fantasy, 5600 words). A reverse heroic fantasy. About prophesied relationships, prophesied breakups, and using what power you have when someone else is the hero. If you want to read just one piece of mine this year (for award nominations or otherwise), this is the one I’d recommend!
  2. Conference of the Birds – Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Jan/Feb 20211 (science fiction, 3900 words). AI and distributed minds. My most neuroscience-informed 2021 piece.
    • “No program-layer could predict what a human might do, but Surveillance Hub could see everything that mattered.”
    • Reprints forthcoming in Dreamforge Anvil and Speculatief (Dutch)
  3. Memories of Fire – Translunar Travelers Lounge, April 2021 (contemporary fantasy noir, 4400 words). Jewish mythology, the 2011 Libyan revolution, and the tyrants of Heaven and Earth. This one still moves me, and I wish more people read it.
    • “I finally got my smoke. I enjoy them for the ritual, not the nicotine. A little fire, a brand-new drop of ash, the same little destruction every time.”
  4. Cruise Control – Fireside Fiction, July 2021 (science fiction, 1100 words). Unhappy families, retiree brains, and self-driving cars.
  5. The Promise of Iron – Kaleidotrope, September 2021 (steampunk, 5900 words). Hungarian Jews in a nineteenth century upended by steampunktech.
    • “Food and money are a greater fortune than the sight of machines, she told herself.”
    • Reprint forthcoming in War Torn anthology (Shacklebound Books)
  6. Eight Reasons You Are Alone – Nature Futures, November 2021 (science fiction, 900 words). Conscience and self-definition.
    • “If I asked you what kind of person you are, you wouldn’t know the answer.”
    • Reprint forthcoming in Flash Fiction Online
  7. [Not Hugo-eligible in 2022]: A Living Planet – Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Jan/Feb 2022, on bookshelves Dec 20212. 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

Nonfiction

  1. Short Fiction Rejection Letters: Best Practices and Expectations” – SFWA Blog (August 24, 2021)
  2. Embodied and Empathetic Minds” – Astounding Analog Companion Blog (February 2, 2021). Linked to “Conference of the Birds” above.

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.

Please consider our co-editors Mur Lafferty & S.B. Divya would make a great choice (as a two-person team) for Best Editor Short Form! They came in a very close second in the 2021 Hugo Awards, and Divya is retiring in April 2022.

Eight Reasons You Are Alone

My science fiction story “Eight Reasons You Are Alone” is available today in Nature Futures! You’ve pulled it off, and learned the price, and now you have plenty of time to think about the consequences. There’s nobody left to talk to, after all.

Illustration by Jacey

But the alarm came too late for the shuttles to escape the blast radius.

All but yours, which launched before the alarm with only one human aboard.

I think you believed the shuttles would be fast enough to escape. But you never investigated. You certainly never asked me.

When you pass your shuttle’s 19 empty berths, do you imagine your dead co-workers? The family you haven’t seen in years? Or nothing at all?

To learn more about the inspiration behind “Eight Reasons You Are Alone,” check out my notes at the bottom of the story!

The only other thing I have to say is: I’ve always wanted to be published in Nature, but my science is in the wrong field for it, so I’m pleased to find this other route into one of science’s most prestigious publications.

The Promise of Iron

My steampunk short story “The Promise of Iron” is available to read today in the Fall 2021 issue of Kaleidotrope!

Eszter and her brother scrounge to put food on the table in a Budapest beseiged by Napeoleon’s war machines. Forty years into the war, both sides fight with machines of steam and thaumic science, but a Jewish girl like Eszter can only dream of getting her hands on the gears.

Eszter pressed her forehead against the narrow window, watching the war-engines roll down the boulevard. The thirty railless cars progressed in perfect synchrony, shaking the tenement floorboards beneath her feet. She stared down at the stubby barrels of cannon, the smoked-glass lenses of eyes, and the mane of pistons emerging from each pressure engine. She wished the machines would pause there, beneath her window, where they seemed close enough to touch. But the automata continued their implacable roll southward, beyond her reach.

The Promise of Iron is free for everyone to read! If you enjoy it, and all the other excellent stories in this issue of Kaleidotrope, consider supporting the magazine.

Story notes below the fold!

Continue reading The Promise of Iron

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