“Used Armor Smell”

Today you can pick up a copy of Dread Space, an anthology of flash length dark military science fiction stories. My story “Used Armor Smell,” about armor more rugged than its wearer, is included.

Cover of Dread Space

When choosing pronouns for nonbinary characters in the past, I’ve defaulted to they/them. It’s a somewhat lazy decision: most nonbinary folks I know use they/them, and as a reader and writer I find they/them more transparent than other sets of pronouns. But in this case, I decided to use Spivak pronouns. Partially, it’s about variety in my writing; on general principles, I should be employing different pronoun sets (including this one, which has been in use for decades). But here, it also serves the story.

My point-of-view character’s gender is completely irrelevant. However, this was a case where I specifically wanted to avoid “they.” Yes, singular they is in widespread use and has a long history as part of the English language. But sentient machines are common in science fiction, as is the merging of human and machine consciousnesses. I quite enjoy those explorations of sentience, but in this case I wanted to make it very explicit that the human is a human and the machine is a machine, a tool of humans, not an artificial intelligence.

“On the Beach”

My short tale of grief, climate change, and selkies is live on the Wyldblood website. I’ve always liked the idea of a selkie (or similar fae creature) hitting the spousal jackpot; but it’s hard to be completely optimistic in the current (literal and figurative) climate.

Underland Arcana: Deck One

This reprint anthology was a December release, but it’s still worth crowing about. The book collects all the stories published in the first year of Underland Arcana. My contributions—the short story “Wayfinding” and the flash “Family Dinner”—are in excellent company.

Book opened to "Wayfinding" and the Three of Wands from the Murder of Crows Tarot
Three of Wands, Murder of Crows Tarot, Corrado Roi and Charles Harrington
Book opened to "Family Dinner" with the Five of Cups from the Tarot of the Divine
Five of Cups, Tarot of the Divine, Yoshi Yoshitani

Tarot cards were included with the contributors’ copies, as a special treat. Mark Teppo is having fun with Underland’s Tarot-themed publications, and I’m glad I came along for the ride.

The anthology is available as a trade paperback or ebook (or as a paperback/ebook bundle if you order from the publisher) and can be found at the usual vendors.

Deck One cover

Preorder Martian Issue 4

I’m going to have a story in the fourth issue of Martian: The Magazine of Science Fiction Drabbles. (It’s called “Tethered, In Darkness” and it’s about a generation ship.) If you read your ebooks on a Kindle and enjoy them popping up on release day, like a present from Past You, consider preordering from Amazon.

Cover of Martian Issue 4

You can also, of course, order other issues of the magazine (#2 is at Smashwords, because KDP is not always cooperative). Especially if you like to consume drabbles like popcorn: delicious bites in a big bowl of more delicious bites.

“In Transit, Beautiful” in The Antihumanist

My space junk story “In Transit, Beautiful” appears in the Third Edition of The Antihumanist. I was charmed a number of years ago when I learned about space archaeology as a field—I’d never thought of space junk in those terms, but obviously it makes sense to do so—and this vignette looks at that built environment decaying as part of nature.

The Antihumanist 3rd Edition cover art
Cover art by Zuzanna

Award eligibility post

It’s that time of year again. Like so many other authors, I’d like to present a rundown of work that came out in 2021. If you are nominating for the Hugo, Astounding, Nebula, Stoker, Locus, or any of the other awards out there, I’d appreciate your consideration. For purposes of awards restricted by geography, national citizenship, etc., I’m in the United States, specifically Pennsylvania.

Astounding Award: I’m in my second (and final) year of eligibility for this Not-A-Hugo award for new writers. Like the Hugos, it’s voted on by members of Worldcons 79, 80, and 81 (aka DisCon II, Chicon 8, and a con/location to be decided in December). My eligibility clock started in 2020 with my first short story publication at professional rates. (Eligibility requirements can be a bit hard to determine from the outside, as they involve factors like pay rates, print runs, net income, etc. The Astounding Award website lists some of the eligible authors.)

“Always an After” (approx. 3,250 words) appears in In Somnio: A Collection of Modern Gothic Horror, edited by Alex Woodroe and published by Tenebrous Press. The anthology is available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon, Godless, and Tenebrous. (You can also watch me read the opening of the story in this video.)

“Now and Then and Back Again: A Play of Three Acts” (approx. 2,200 words) appears in The Chorochronos Archives, edited by Jessica Augustsson and published by JayHenge Publishing. The anthology is available as an ebook, paperback, or hardcover from Amazon, Bookshop, and other retailers.

“Wayfinding” (approx. 1,800 words) appears in Underland Arcana 4 (Fall 2021), edited by Mark Teppo, and is free to read online.

“Family Dinner” (approx. 200 words) appears in Underland Arcana 3 (Summer 2021), edited by Mark Teppo, and is free to read online.

“Honey and Apples” (100 words) appears in Martian: The Magazine of Science Fiction Drabbles, edited by Eric Fomley, and is free to read online.

Audio: I also had two stories included in podcasts. “Coffin Bell” was part of The NoSleep Podcast‘s Suddenly Shocking Vol. 13, available to season pass holders. CB Droege’s reading of “Kill Switch” for Manawaker Studio’s Flash Fiction Podcast is available for free online. (Note that while the audio performances are new, the text of both stories was previously published. “Coffin Bell” was published in 2019 on the Patreon site I scrapped. “Kill Switch” originally appeared in Daily Science Fiction in 2020.)

And that was my 2021 output. Whether you end up liking my stuff or preferring other folks’ work, I wish you happy reading and nominating!

Preorder Martian Issue 1

Do you want to support a pro-paying market for super-short stories? If so, the first issue of Martian: The Magazine of Science Fiction Drabbles is available for purchase on Amazon. My story “Honey and Apples” is in excellent company.

Cover of Martian Issue 1

“Family Dinner”: Underland Arcana

My flash story “Family Dinner” is out today in the third issue of Underland Arcana. It’s free to read online. You can also buy the issue as an ebook or paperback and support the cool stuff Mark Teppo’s doing with Underland Press.

Cover image of Underland Arcana Issue 3

So far, my stories for Underland are 2 for 2 incorporating unhealthy relationships with food—let that serve as a content warning and promise that the third story will deal with different themes. “Family Dinner” was inspired by a different publication’s flash contest; the prompt was Dorothea Tanning’s Portrait de famille.

“Kill Switch”: Flash Fiction Podcast

Check out Manawaker Studio’s Flash Fiction Podcast 0614 to listen to “Kill Switch.” I always think it’s interesting to hear a reader’s choices: pauses, emphasis, etc. In this case I particularly wanted to hear the results because CB Droege is a man, and I had originally pictured my narrator as a woman. (I didn’t specify gender in the story; that was a detail I consciously jettisoned when I cut the piece down to flash length, after deciding a longer version wasn’t working.) I like the version he produced and generally get a kick out of hearing my stories read.

“Kill Switch” originally appeared in Daily Science Fiction, if you’d like to read along while you listen.