Category Archives: Short Stories

Free Online: Toward Lands Uncharted

Toward Lands Uncharted, a short story of mine which has only previously been available behind paywall, is now free to read at Curious Fictions!

Check out my original story notes here. And if you like this, you can buy a whole bunch of other excellent stories in this vein in the Mind Candy anthology from Myriad Paradigm Publishing.

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.

Continue reading

TIIWTRLN – Cover, ToC, and Preorder

Check out this awesome cover for “The Internet is Where the Robots Live Now,” the upcoming anthology with my Brave Little ToasterMining AI story – now available for preorder!

Anthology cover

“The Internet Is Where The Robots Live Now” cover image

We are headed for convergence. The separation between mind and matter, robot and man, the artificial and the sublime is becoming less every day. Will we crash into extinction or wake to a future beyond our current comprehension? Join some of the brightest voices in science fiction today as they tell twenty unique stories exploring the thinning space between mind and machine.

Preorder your copy today! Contains original short stories from myself and nineteen other excellent authors including Vajra Chandrasekera, Maria Haskins, Premee Mohammed, and Aimee Ogden.

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 Seeds We Plant

I’m delighted to announce that my short story “The Seeds We Plant” will appear in Compelling Science Fiction – specifically, in their kickstarter bonus issue! If you go back that kickstarter, you’ll not only get an awesome print edition of their anthology (containing a reprint of my Sentient Dyson Swarm story and 26 more tales), you’ll also get to read a brand-new story by me, full of classic science fictional Person Vs. Environment challenges and emotional-control cybernetic implants!

Story Sale: Elegy of Carbon

I’m pleased to announce that my little science fiction epic “Elegy of Carbon” will appear in The Internet Is Where The Robots Live Now, the inaugural anthology from Paper Dog Books. It’s an anthology about the future of human-robot interactions, and my story takes that out to a space-opera future.

The story’s unofficial subtitle is “The Brave Little ToasterMining AI.”

The anthology is due out in late September, so hopefull I’ll tell you all more about it in a month or two!

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.

Withdrawing from Writers of the Future

Earlier this week, I received a phone call informing me that my final submission to the Writers of the Future contest (first quarter 2018) had been selected as a finalist. However, after contemplating the information1 that past winners have shared about the contest in recent weeks, I have withdrawn my finalist story from consideration.

I would not judge anyone for their past (or future) decisions to be involved in the contest, whether or not they act(ed) out of ignorance. After all, many writers – myself included – have long treated this contest as a normal fixture of our community. I hope my choice will help encourage others to reexamine that assumption.2

For myself, no award is worth supporting an organization that has hurt and misused so many friends, fellow authors, illustrators, and human beings.

Updates:
• More links in footnotes (8/12/2018)
• Dream Foundry info (10/26/2018)
• SFWA statement added to footnotes (12/5/2018)

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!