Cold Memories

I’m delighted to announce the publication of my story Cold Memories in Nature Magazine. They gave me a fun little teaser for it on twitter, too! This is what I wrote about it for their blog:

In Cold Memories we have a traditional climate-disaster backstory. I feel this is something of an obligation for a science-fiction writer to put out at present, although I generally prefer to present more positive futures. I don’t expect the entire planet will be ruined as in the story, but I do believe greenhouse-gas emissions will continue unabated for far too long due to the intransigence of the major industrial and consumer nations. I imagine some kind of too-late technological intervention such as atmospheric particle release or catalytic carbon sequestration to be attempted eventually, with real effects. But because such interventions will probably be enormously expensive, I doubt they will occur in time to prevent hundreds of millions or even billions of deaths, upsetting the entire order of nature and horribly disrupting civilization and the survivors’ quality of life for many generations.

In this story I feel I’m being extremely optimistic about our space travel and planetary colonization capabilities. It’s been more than 60 years since the first Sputnik was launched with no great technological advances for getting off the ground since then, and for 45 years no human has travelled beyond low Earth orbit. And yet, in just over a century I’m suggesting viable asteroid colonies as far out as Neptune’s trojans. I should say that science fiction is in my view primarily the literature of optimism, and despite everything, I see this story as optimistic in its way. But, of course, I would happily trade a few million colonists on the Moon, Mars and in the asteroids for billions of lives on Earth, if only it was within my power to preserve our ecology.

2018 Sale and Publication Recap

Cold Memories (forthcoming): Read online in Nature Magazine.

Happy to be of Service (forthcoming): Listen to the Manawaker Studio podcast.

Not the Brightest of Timelines (forthcoming): Buy the Unrealpolitik anthology.

A Handful of Dust (forthcoming): Buy the Gunsmoke & Dragonfire anthology.

The Gaea Hypothesis (forthcoming): Listen to the Centropic Oracle reading on YouTube.

The Freighter (December 2018): Listen to the reading at Liars’ League NYC

An Infinite Series of Primes (September, 2018): Read at Apparition Lit.

The Violet Hour (May, 2018): Buy the Galaxy's Edge kindle edition at Amazon.

I Awaken From a Dream of Flight (February, 2018): Purchase the Mind Candy anthology.

This doesn’t count two drabbles (at The Drabble) and several haiku at the Asahi Shimbun.

Of the three stories published so far this year, I’m fondest of I Awaken From a Dream of Flight, the story of an AI pilot on virtual compassionate leave. The “forthcoming” items should be out in 2019.

New publications

Some new publications to crow over:

  1. Flash story at Apparition Lit: An Infinite Series of Primes. This is a bit of a homage to the great novel White Light by Rudy Rucker.

  2. Two Drabbles up at The Drabble. Second Person and The Consolations of Cosmology.

  3. Two haiku posted by the Asahi Shimbun. The formatting of their pages is a bit hard to follow, so I’ll include them here. Both were based on prompts for summertime.

bees hum and frogs chirp
idyllic urban garden ...
ouch! something stung me!

red neon allure
tail lights gleam off wet pavement
steaming new york nights

The Violet Hour in Galaxy's Edge

I'm very pleased to announce that my story The Violet Hour is now live in the May issue of Galaxy's Edge, available for purchase at Amazon or by subscription to the magazine.

The Violet Hour is a silverlockian mashup of weird-western and ancient mythos, featuring the first woman in the US Marshal Service, Mrs. F.M. Miller. Her first name seems to have been lost to history but she is said to have been an expert horsewoman and a crack shot.


Books I'm looking forward to in 2018

In no particular order, four books I'm looking forward to reading in 2018:

Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly, the sequel to Amberlough.

Impostor Syndrome by Mishell Baker, the sequel to Borderline and Phantom Pains.

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee, the sequel to Ninefox Gambit and Raven Stratagem.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers, the sequel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit.

All of these are sequels, which is why I'm looking forward to them. In my experience truly great books tend to be standalone. But of course as publishers and writers well know, trilogies and longer series are more reliable sellers because they establish expectations and create just the type of eagerness I feel for these sequels.

2017 Accomplishments

A reasonably productive year for me. Five stories published:

From Out a Full Orbed Moon (The NonBinary Review)

Shadow Stalker (Aquila Magazine)

Strange Stars (Third Flatiron's Cat's Breakfast anthology)

Drawing Dead (The Sockdolager)

Thirteen Bullets (PodCastle)

Of these, I'm most fond of Thirteen Bullets, a weird-west/vodoun mashup you can read or listen to at PodCastle. It's also up on the SFWA reading list for the Nebulas.

Other writing-related accomplishments:

  • My 2016 story Houseproud was selected as an "Intelligence in Fiction" award winner by the Berkeley Machine Intelligence Research Institute. You can read it here on my website.
  • I completed a novel, Evolutionary Intelligence Enkidu, currently being queried for agent representation. This is a near-future, military aviation, alien invasion, AI romance. Inspired by Naomi Novik's great Temeraire series and by Chōhei Kambayashi's Battle Fairy Yukikaze novel (and anime series).

La Belle Sauvage

I finished Philip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage, first in his new Book of Dust prequel series. In some sense it's more of the same from the first series, His Dark Materials. England has been corrupted by the malicious, oppressive influence of a government beholden to a Geneva-based religion that might be construed as Nazi Catholicism. Mostly the people live in fear and hope to be left alone, but there are some stout-hearted native elements fighting against the regime. And Lord Asriel from the first series is even now pursuing his grandiose anti-deity program without anyone yet knowing what he's doing.

After some initial set-up, this volume is mostly a flight-and-journey story similar in some ways to those early chapters of the Lord of the Rings where the hobbits are fleeing the Nazgul but haven't yet made it to Rivendell, or indeed, even to Bree and Aragorn. There is another echo of LoTR here as well, the notion of a magical, essential England (here called Albion), derived originally I think from William Morris's distilling of various pre-Norman myths and folklore. This is never overt in Tolkien because after all there is no England in Middle Earth, but every lyrical word about the delights of the Shire and the hobbits' way of life is a paean to an imaginary Olde England that never existed in the real world.

The two main characters, young Malcolm and Alice, are carrying the infant Lyra (who might as well be the One Ring except for the need for nappies and powdered milk). They are caught up a vast, catastrophic and magical flood of the Thames, making their riverine way from Oxford to London, trying to keep her out of the hands of several groups of bad guys. The chief villain here is very memorable and horrible, but nevertheless pitiable and sad in his way. The allegory of the anima/animus daemons allows the superficially attractive Bonneville to be depicted as horrifyingly evil merely through the unconcealable malice of his daemon. 

If you liked the first book of the Golden Compass you'll like this book as well. The main character, Malcolm, is resourceful and sympathetic, but for me Alice is much more attractive. Alice is a lower-class adolescent girl living in this oppressive and retrogressive society which demeans everyone in general, but as you might expect is especially demeaning towards women. She is extremely bitter and even sullen at times, but in the circumstances of her life and what she's subjected to this isn't a negative at all; she has every right, and she overcomes her own attitudes when she needs to. And despite total lack of chosen-ness and absence of any special training or power whatsoever, Alice is nevertheless valorous and independent, facing down any number of challenges ranging from the quotidian to the horrible and otherworldly. I wanted to cheer her on all the way through the book. "La Belle Sauvage" is the name of Malcolm's canoe, and the epithet might also be applied to a Fairy-queen character in the novel, but I'd say Alice is also a belle sauvage because she defies authority, hierarchy, and paternalism throughout. One way or another she's always carrying chains around, but she wants to be free, and as a reader you'd like to her be strong and free enough to be wild.