Fourth Street Fantasy Podcasts

In-person conventions may be canceled this year, but the community has prepared all kinds of remote options for you to enjoy. Fourth Street Fantasy is one of my favorite conventions, known for its tight-knit community and high-level discussions. This year, 4th Street is bringing those discussions straight to you in four panels, presented in podcast form (with transcripts).

This year’s panels are:

  • “In Which We Consider the Role of Hospitality in Stories”
  • “The Fantasy Feast, or the Same Old Immediate Road Stew”
  • “This is Fine: Making Art While the World Burns”
  • “Systems of Communication”

I’m especially excited about that last one, because you can hear Yours Truly on it, in discussion with Django Wexler, John Appel, Arkady Martine, and Sherwood Smith!

2020 4th Street Programming – Podcast Edition

 

Publication: The Gentry

My short story, The Gentry, is live in the Summer 2020 issue of Kaleidotrope! Alongside 6 other excellent stories and five poems, you’ll find my tale of the diner with the portal between worlds… after the owners have retired, and condos have gone up in its place, and one last fairy chevalier is still stuck on Earth.

This story has gone through a long and twisty history – it once killed the professional magazine PerVisions. But the chevalier has made it back to New York at last.

Some notes and background on the story below the fold. Contains spoilers.

Continue reading Publication: The Gentry

Time Cookie Wars in Drabblecast

Time is cyclical, and so are the wars over the perfect snack. My story The Time Cookie Wars has appeared in Drabblecast, as part of its episode 426 Flash Trifecta! The episode’s theme is “Friends close, enemies closer,” which is a perfect fit for this story. Sometimes the enemy is very close indeed.

Whether this is your first time reading/hearing Time Cookie Wars, or you want to hear a wonderful new narration alongside a pair of fresh weird stories, go check it out!

If you want to learn more about the story’s inspiration, check out the author notes I posted alongside its first publication.

Story Sale: Weights and Measures

I’m delighted to announce that my short story Weights and Measures will be appearing in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly in November 2020!

This story takes place in the same world as my unpublished Conquistador Dragon Novel (and even shares a character with it). It’s a fantasy world where the only source of magic is gods and religion. Our main character, Prelate Agnella, is a banker-priestess of the globe-spanning Church of the Trader. For all the church’s flaws, theirs is the god of trade, exchange, and fairness. Sometimes, the only justice in this world is what they bring to it.

I’m so glad this story has found a home after its long journeys. It was a Writers of the Future finalist in 2017 (prior to the piece I withdrew in 2018), and was accepted by the ill-omened Spectacle Magazine, though the latter folded before publication (or payment). Now it’s going out into the world, with original art!

FenCon Postponed

In sad-but-necessary news, FenCon XVII has been postponed from 2020 to 2021.

If you were looking forward to my appearance as Science Guest of Honor (like I was), fear not: I plan to be there in Dallas/Fort Worth next year  (September 17-19 2021), alongside all the rest of the excellent GoH list!

Neuroscience for Writers: The Slides

Update: Slides no longer available. Come catch me at another convention!

Thank you to all the 80+ people who attended my “Neuroscience for Writers: The Evolved Brain” talk at Flights of Foundry! Lots of attendees asked for the slides, as did some of you out there who hadn’t been able to attend. So I’m happy to provide: you can download the slides here. I may take the slides offline in a week or two (i.e. early June 2020), but if so I’ll update this post.

Slides aren’t everything, of course. I like to hope that my ramblingcharming presence adds something beyond the mere powerpoint. I hope I’ll get the privilege to share the talk again at future conventions, online or in person. This was the 4th time I’ve given the “Neuroscience for Writers” talk, but no two deliveries are alike. Every year I update and improve it – and more importantly, share it with a new audience.

Flights of Foundry

Are you stuck at home this weekend and looking for the experience of a science fiction convention? Come on over to Flights of Foundry, an online convention for people interested in the speculative arts! It’s run by Dream Foundry, the world’s only organization dedicated to supporting early-career creators in the speculative genres. If you’re interested in speculative writing, art, game writing, or anything else, this weekend is your chance to come learn from the best! Guests of Honor include Ken Liu, Liz Gorinsky, Suzanne Walker, Grace Fong, Andrea Phillips, and more.

Registration will be open through the weekend, but if you want to get in the lottery for limited-entry sessions, deadline is tonight (Wednesday May 13). Registration cost is pay-what-you-can, with recommended donation of $30.

I love what Dream Foundry does, and I’ll be all over the convention. Here are the programming items I’ll be on: a kaffeeklatsch (hangout), a reading, a neuroscience talk, and two panels.

UPDATE: Sunday 1-3pm will be the Escape Artists Room Party. It’s open to everyone, so please come hang out with a bunch of staff from Escape Pod and all the Escape Artists podcasts!

Ben Kinney's Flights of Foundry schedule
All times are Central Daylight Time.

I hope to see you there!

 

Escape Pod Turns 15

Today is Escape Pod’s 15th birthday! That is approximately 2.5 entire internets. To celebrate, we have a whole host of announcements.

I’ve only been Escape Pod’s assistant editor for about 3 of those years, but it’s glorious and humbling to remember that is a mere 1/5th of the Pod’s lifespan. I’m proud to help helm ths ship ever onward, to the finest heights of science fiction. It’s been such a joy the last few years to get award recognition for our years of work bringing free, listener-supported science fiction stories and readings to the world.

If you want to give a birthday present to Escape Pod AND yourself, pre-order our upcoming print anthology! It’s got stories from Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Scalzi, and more, including nine works of original fiction.

I’ve also heard tell that Escape Pod co-editor Mur Lafferty and publisher Alasdair Stuart are co-writing a new a new adventure for the Zombies, Run! app, coming out this August. Special offers will be available for Escape Artists fans and supporters!

2020 Hugo Award Finalist

So this happened. And by “this,” I mean Escape Pod receiving its second nomination as a Hugo Award finalist.

List of Best Semiprozine finalists in 2020 Hugo Awards

Thank you to all our listeners, readers, and supporters who make all this worth doing! And extra thanks to the rest of the Escape Pod crew. Divya and Mur, our incomparable co-pilots; Adam and Summer who assemble the pieces into magic, Tina and Alasdair whose smooth and sonorous voices help us guide the ship in every week, and most importantly the entire crew of Associate Editors who do the work day in and day out to keep stories read & the pod flying: Kay, Jen, Sandy, Darusha, Ryan, Premee, Kevin, Izzy, James, Phoebe, Jen, Shiv,1 and Karlo!

Writer Warning: Unfit / Unreal / Thinkerbeat Reader / Longshot Press

Last Updated December 15, 2020

This main section has been preserved in its original edition from February 2020 to provide a historical record of past actions. Some facts have changed since. You can find updates and other developments below. Including the part where he doxxed me on December 14, 2020.

If you’re an author out there submitting short stories, you should be aware of the things that the publisher Longshot Press (magazines Unfit and Unreal, portal Thinkerbeat Reader, etc) are doing without your permission.

Here’s a screenshot from Feb 27 of the “honorable mentions” page where they publish the authors, titles, and ratings for some stories they’ve rejected.

Screenshot from Thinkerbeat Reader listing story titles along with author names, submission dates, and ratings.

I’ve edited the screenshot to only reveal the information of authors who’ve given me consent to share. I’m not providing links because there are dozens more authors on that page, who presumably never wanted this information publicized. Nothing in the website’s guidelines warns an author that their story may be publicly named & rated. In fact, their privacy policy states that they will not share your information with anyone.

(Yes, public. This page is visible to everyone, not only Thinkerbeat members.)

I tried yesterday to tell the editor that authors would see this practice as upsetting & predatory, so that he could quietly fix it. Unfortunately, he instead responded with a masterclass in professionalism.

Email from Thinkerbeat to Benjamin C. Kinney containing only the words "Grow up."

Maybe some authors are willing to have their rejections named & rated. I certainly wouldn’t be, but that’s your choice to make. But it’s DEFINITELY not okay to share information about individual submissions without asking permission. None of the authors in my screenshot were aware of this until I told them.

If you’re considering submitting here, also keep in mind the Unfit / Unreal / Thinkerbeat practice of requiring a subscription to submit – a subscription which costs money after the first three months.1

Thanks to David Steffen of the Submission Grinder for doing the initial legwork of spotting the problem.

Updates and Developments

The main post above has not been significantly altered except where noted here.

Edit 2/27: Please don’t try to track down the full list of names-and-ratings. It contains about 75 rows, and every one of them contains information that the submitter didn’t plan to tell the whole internet. Let’s respect their privacy. If you want to know whether your story is listed, let me know and I’ll check my screenshot. (Sub-update 12/14/2020: I no longer see any such list on their page, perhaps they gave it up sometime after my March updates.)

Paypal transfer from Daniel White to Benjamin C. Kinney, totaling $0.00 after feesEdits 2/28: Changes to the main post: Clarified that the ranking page is public. Clarified that they are violating their website privacy policy. Revised info on their payment scheme.

Rest assured that Writer Beware has been notified and is aware.

Update 3/01: The editor sent me a Paypal transfer that totaled $0.00 after fees. Perhaps this is a petty way of reminding me that I didn’t pay? Or an attempt to verify my email address? Who knows? There’s no note with the transfer. I have refunded it, to make clear that I have no financial relationship of any kind with him.

Update 3/04: According to reports, they have removed story titles and ratings from the Honorable Mention page, changed the landing page to make clear that subscriptions will be required after 3 months (rather than hiding it in the website terms), and updated their privacy policy. However, their new privacy policy leaves much to be desired – it only says “will not sell your contact info.” This does not prevent them from giving your contact info, nor does it forbid the story title/ranking info from the original Honorable Mention page.

Update 3/12: The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have posted an official warning statement about Thinkerbeat and its magazines. Note that Daniel Scott White (the publisher) also runs the online review magazine Mythaxis Review (.com, NOT .uk), according to Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware. Finally, Daniel Scott White continues to act like a jerk when people ask him to remove their stories.

Update 3/22: It looks like Thinkerbeat is now calling their rejections a “Thinkerbeat Award.” Not that they like your story enough to buy it, but they still want you to give them some free advertising by putting the image on your website. (A very Writers-Of-The-Future-like practice. Good to know that markets with a predatory approach to their writers are learning from each other. Sigh.)

Update/Edit 10/1/2020: Be aware that the magazine Longshot Island and associated Longshot Press are by the same publisher. For clarity, the page and title above have been updated to include the Longshot name.

Update 12/7/2020: The publisher is now forbidding SFWA members from submitting, and is generally ranting about SFWA, in some ill-conceived refusal to believe that all this negative attention was caused by his unprofessional and harmful-to-writers behaviors and practices.

Update 12/14/2020: I know everyone’s having good fun getting themselves onto Longshot’s twitter list of “SFWA – Do Not Follow,” but as noted by others, public twitter lists like this can be used (by anyone, not necessarily Longshot) to direct trolls and harassers. After you’ve had your laugh, I recommend removing yourself from the list by blocking or soft-blocking @/longshotpress.

Update 12/14/2020 (later): Longshot Press’s twitter account doxxed me today, posting my Screenshot of Longshot Press twitter account doxxing Benjamin C. Kinney, including legal name, home address, workplace, etc. Private into is opaqued in screenshot, not original.legal name, home address, and place of work. It’s all a bit sad, but I guess they insist on demonstrating who they are. Nobody should work with a publisher who’ll respond to criticism by tracking down your private information and posting it online.

All grey boxes are my additions. Daniel Scott White posted the unobscured pdf taken from my work website.

If you would like to avoid him for your safety, his accounts on Twitter include at least @/longshotpress, @/unreal_magazine, @/unfitmagazine, @/thelandofwords, and @/readmythaxis. He also has Facebook pages for each of these.

Update 12/15: Add @/longshotisland to the account list. However, do NOT confuse them with the semipro magazine Mythaxis (.co.uk). They had the name first (since 2008) and have no relationship with this guy’s Mythaxis Review (.com).