National Science Fiction Day

It’s National Science Fiction Day, apparently because this is when we think Isaac Asimov was probably born, more or less.

NASA image of "rose" galaxies, with the text "January 2 2021" and "National Science Fiction Day."

I’m not a big fan of policing genre boundaries. That’s partially because it’s an exercise in futility, partially because of the toxicity often motivating such impulses. (Counting FTL and psionics as science fictional, and shuffling sciences other than physics and engineering into the oft-denigrated “soft” category, speaks much more to the highly specific development of the literary field than it does to any sort of foundation in reality.) But mostly, it’s just because I don’t much care. I’m a fan of everything that falls under the umbrella of speculative fiction.

That said, three of my stories from last year fall pretty recognizably into the science fiction genre. I invite you to read them in celebration of a hashtag holiday.

“Kill Switch”

“Digital Pyre”

“Purple Lizard Skin”

The obligatory awards post

As 2020 slouches toward its end, authors pause their doomscrolling and conscientiously abandon their works in progress for a few moments (note: this is career-related, and therefore absolutely entirely nothing at all like procrastination). They assemble links, quash their self-consciousness, and hurl self-promoting posts into the aether before diving under a blanket.

It just so happens that several of my short stories have been published this year, so I too shall participate in this hallowed tradition. This is my list of 2020 stories, in order of longest to shortest:

“5:37” (~2,700 words) is a story about memory, professional practice, and a haunted VHS tape. The (fantasy? humor? horror?) story appears in the August issue of Translunar Travelers Lounge, edited by Bennett North and Aimee Ogden. It’s free to read online, or you can purchase an ebook and support the magazine. Charles Payseur has some kind words for the story (“…poignant, funny, and sharp all at the same time” and “It’s a careful and charming narrative and voice, and it’s a wonderful read!”) in Quick Sip Reviews.

“Like Gold Upon Her Tongue” (~2,600 words) is a story about disordered eating and getting something you didn’t even know you hoped for—at a price. The dark fantasy/horror story is available in the anthology XVIII: Stories of Mischief & Mayhem, edited by Mark Teppo, which can be purchased as a paperback or ebook from the usual retailers. The book deserves some love: aside from the fact that I quite enjoyed the other stories in it, XVIII launched on March 20th, when the proverbial shit was really beginning to hit the equally proverbial fan.

“Shared Space” (~1,750 words) is a story about cubicles, community, and the magic of connection. The gently fantastic story is included in the anthology Community of Magic Pens, edited by E.D.E. Bell, available as a paperback or ebook from the publisher or the usual retailers. This is another anthology that deserves love; it’s relentlessly hopeful, with more than a few gems between its covers.

“Changeling” (~1,500 words) is a story of love, loss, and adoption. This fantasy story is free to read in Corvid Queen, edited by Kay Allen. I like the way this journal takes advantage of its electronic format to offer thoughtful categorization and multiple methods of organization so readers can encounter works via different pathways.

“Digital Pyre” (~1,250 words) is a story of data, memory, and sacrifice in the face of climate catastrophe. This cli-fi/near-future science fiction story is free to read in Little Blue Marble, edited by Katrina Archer. The story will also be included in Little Blue Marble‘s annual anthology (this will be the fourth annual anthology, with proceeds helping to support the magazine).

“Purple Lizard Skin” (~1,000 words) is a short tale set in a hospital waiting room, where technology means almost anything can be repaired—but not necessarily healed. This science fiction story is free to read on the Wyldblood Press website where it was published as part of the weekly Wyld Flash feature, edited by Mark Bilsborough. The series is a good way to spend a few minutes on Fridays.

“Kill Switch” (~600 words) is a story about biotech, professionalization, and evil. This science fiction story is free to read in Daily Science Fiction, edited by Jonathan Laden and Michele Barasso. What can be said about DSF? It’s a long-running magazine that publishes a lot of stories, with a mix of big names and newcomers, and it was a pleasure to see my byline appear here for the first time in January.

Whether or not you choose to nominate or vote for any of my stories, whether or not you’re voting for awards at all, I hope you’ll click on some of these links—in this post or other authors’. There’s a lot of good stuff out this year. Here’s hoping that you find the right story for you, at just the right moment.

ETA: I’m also in the first year of eligibility for the Astounding Award.

Autumn

I am quite fond of autumn. I like the cooler weather—jeans-and-tee-shirt weather, light jacket weather, cardigan or sweatshirt weather. Today, however, it made it up to 90° (or so close as to make no difference). Following last Friday’s Climate Strike, today’s heat fills me with the impulse to despair and/or (metaphorically) burn something down.

The leaves aren’t turning yet. That’s an October thing, though the number of crunchable leaves on the ground has increased. In lieu of brilliant foliage, I instead give you a picture from the final days of summer: Canada geese in flight at twilight. The blurring almost manages to look artistic, rather than an artifact of a poorly-lit motion shot taken with a years-old smartphone.

A blurred flock of geese at twilight, flying above trees and Venus
Venus with geese at twilight

Raison d’être

I have a pile of WIPs that I’m actually going to submit at some point. I chose this year, when I have taken a science fictionally significant number of spins around the sun, as the year to start sending them out. In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, I also spun up this site and a few social media accounts. This means that whenever I do have something published, there will be some amount of content already in place. More importantly, it means I will have already done the administrivia of setting things up and gotten that flavor of distractability out of my system. (Or so I tell myself.)

At the moment, Twitter is mostly for following a few authors, with some retweets and original tweets. I’ve been on Twitter for a number of years, but when I started I vowed that I would follow folks in just a few fields. I stuck to that and I think it was a good plan. So the second account is not cheating, it’s just replicating the strategy for a different field. (Or so I tell myself.)

I’m using Dreamwidth as a place to dump selected progress updates. I keep more meaningful logs elsewhere—word counts, notes about what I’m working on, brilliant thoughts to incorporate, that sort of thing. But as the journal is public—albeit uninteresting to anyone who is not me—it may serve an accountability purpose. (Or so I tell myself.)

Anyway, that is what I am currently doing, and why I am doing it even though no one is watching.

Post the first

I am not currently planning on long form blogging, nor do I expect much of anyone to stumble across this site for a while. (And, frankly, my eventual traffic expectations are rather modest.) But it seems a shame to let a new site languish entirely, so here at least is a day one post.